If you want to be super-productive, the ideal scenario is connecting two or more screens to your desktop or laptop. This is easy to set up at home or in the office, but then you find yourself stuck in a hotel room with just a laptop, and you can’t remember how to function with a single display. We’ve dug dip and found the best portable monitors you can buy right now for work, play, and general use to ease those travel woes.
The best portable monitors in 2021:
Editor’s note: We’ll be updating this list of the best portable monitors regularly as new ones launch.
USB-A and USB-C
Before we get started, you’ll need to understand the difference between USB-C and USB-A connections in terms of video output. Your PC’s USB-C port may support the DisplayPort protocol, which is an alternative to HDMI. However, that’s not a guarantee as manufacturers may limit USB-C connectivity to power, data, or a combination of both. Check your PC’s specifications before purchasing a USB-C-based portable monitor.
If your USB-C port supports the DisplayPort protocol, you can plug a portable monitor into your PC without installing additional software. That’s not the case for USB-A connections, as they do not support video output. To connect your display via USB-A, you’ll need DisplayLink drivers installed on your PC. Moreover, if your USB-C port supports data but not DisplayPort, you’ll still need the DisplayLink drivers.
You can grab the latest drivers here:
Many portable monitors listed below rely on a single USB-A or USB-C connection. You’ll also find standard DisplayPort and HDMI connections on several units, along with their Micro and Mini variants. You’ll even see units requiring a separate power supply while others draw power straight from the parent PC.
TN and IPS
Some displays rely on TN panels, while others feature an IPS display. Short for Twisted Nematic, TN technology is the oldest of the two, serving as the first LCD panel type replacing CRT monitors. The benefits are short response times, high brightness levels, and super-high refresh rates, making TN panels ideal for gaming. However, they don’t provide wide viewing angles or support large color palates.
IPS, short for In-Plane Switching, serves as the successor to TN technology. IPS panels are ideal for color-accurate content creation and general use due to their support for over 16 million colors and wide viewing angles. Refresh rates and response times have improved over the years, but gamers may be better off using TN displays if color depth isn’t required.
Related: The best laptops
Lenovo ThinkVision M14
Our first portable monitor comes from Lenovo, which is one of the best laptop PC makers. It makes sense the company can also create a great portable monitor. The Lenovo ThinkVision M14 has a 14-inch Full HD display and connects to your laptop or desktop PC via its USB-C port. In fact, it has two USB-C ports, one on each side, so you can place the monitor on either side of a laptop or desktop monitor with ease.
The monitor’s built-in kickstand contains the device’s ports, and can adjust the screen’s angle from -5 degrees to 90 degrees. You can also make adjustments to the monitor’s bottom foot to raise or lower its height. This portable display weighs 1.3 pounds and measures 4.4mm thick. And it comes with its own sleeve for easy transport.
NexiGo 144Hz 17.3-inch Portable Gaming Monitor
This NexiGo monitor is pretty large at 17.3 inches diagonally. There’s more to it than size, though. This is meant to be a gaming monitor, and it has the specs to qualify as one. You get an FHD panel with a 144Hz refresh rate and IPS technology. It also sports a 1,000:1 contrast ratio and 100% of the sRGB spectrum. The 4ms response time is also pretty good for a portable monitor connected via HDMI or USB-C.
Next: The best monitors around
The brand may not be as popular as others in this list, but this Nexigo screen can hold its own. It’s definitely one of the best portable monitors around.
Asus ZenScreen MB16AHP
Now, let’s get into the big industry brands. The Asus ZenScreen MB16AHP 15.6-inch display packs a large feature set. For starters, it includes an integrated 7,800mAh battery promising for up to four hours on a single charge. It also ships with a foldable “smart case” that protects the screen and serves as a dock. Don’t want the cover? You can still prop the display using the included ZenScreen pen that slides into a hole located in the screen’s bottom right corner (landscape).
The Asus ZenScreen relies on an IPS panel with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution at 60Hz. It has a maximum brightness of 220 nits and Asus “Eye Care” technology consisting of a blue light filter, flicker reduction, and nine video preset modes. Finally, the Asus ZenScreen supports USB-C, Micro-HDMI, and Thunderbolt.
HP EliteDisplay S14
HP’s portable display has a 14-inch IPS panel with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution at 60Hz. It doesn’t pack a huge list of features like the larger Asus unit, but you’ll find notable tidbits like on-screen controls, a low blue light mode, and USB-C connectivity that pulls both data and power from the parent PC or tablet. The wraparound easel cover serves as a built-in prop in landscape mode only.
This portable display has a maximum brightness of 200 nits, 178-degree viewing angles, a 700:1 contrast ratio, and a 5ms response time. It does not have any additional outputs, integrated speakers, or touch input capability. HP largely targets business users with this product, though anyone can use it for gaming and general productivity.
Asus ROG Strix
The ROG (Republic of Gamers) brand from Asus sells laptops, PCs, and accessories for hardcore PC gamers. It’s no surprise that its ROG Strix portable monitor is also made for that audience. And boy, does it perform. It has a huge 17.3-inch display, a 1920×1080 resolution, a 3ms response time, and a high-speed 240hz refresh rate. It also has adaptive-sync support so that gaming should look smooth no matter what. Even with its size and refresh rate, the battery life should last up to 3 hours on a single charge.
This display is perfect for gamers who want to play games on the road, whether with a laptop, console, or even a smartphone. It has a USB-C port and a mini HDMI port for connecting pretty much any gaming device. Finally, it comes with a smart cover that also serves as a kickstand, which can place the monitor in landscape and portrait positions. The biggest flaw is the monitor’s price. It is among the highest of the portable displays you can buy.
Elecrow 10.1 Inch Raspberry Pi Screen
Don’t let the Raspberry Pi reference fool you: This display works with any device packing an HDMI or VGA connector. Measuring 10.1 inches diagonally, it relies on an IPS panel with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution at 60Hz.
What’s notable about this model is that it has the brightest screen on the list at 400 nits (maximum). The Elecrow screen also sports 170-degree viewing angles, an 800:1 contrast ratio, and integrated speakers.
The Acer PM161Q connects via USB-C; strangely enough, you’ll also need a micro-USB cable to power this monitor. This 1920 x 1080 IPS panel is housed in a thicker frame, including a simple kickstand. It weighs in at 2.14 lbs, and is just 0.79 inches thick.
USB connectivity means that this monitor will connect to your supported smartphone or tablet, not just a laptop, giving a little extra versatility for those that travel light. The slower 7ms response time and the lack of viewing angle options with that single-point kickstand move this monitor down our list a little, but we still think it’s worth your consideration. Especially if you’re an Acer fan.
Lepow portable monitor
This portable monitor comes in at 15.6 inches and offers Full HD resolution. It features an IPS panel that can be used in both landscape and portrait mode, and comes with a smart cover that doubles as a kickstand.
The display works with all sorts of devices, including laptops, phones, and gaming consoles. You can hook it up via a USB-C or a Mini HDMI cable. It has a 1,000:1 contrast ratio, a 60Hz refresh rate, and 85-degree viewing angles. It also sports two speakers. Lepow’s portable display is 0.3-inch thick and weighs 1.76 pounds. A screen protector is included in the box.
Espresso Displays portable monitor
This Espresso Displays model is definitely one of the best portable monitors around. The 13.3-inch has a nice Full HD resolution and a 60Hz refresh rate. But you don’t have to settle for a small screen, as they also offer a 15.6-inch version. It even comes with a touchscreen, so you can use it as a tablet of sorts. But you can also purchase a magnetic base that turns it into a much more serious monitor.
What makes this product unique is mostly its design. The aluminum construction, super-thin 0.2-inch body, and sleek edges look stunning. We can go as far as saying the look mimics a certain other very popular company’s products. The unit sports a couple of USB-C ports and an HDMI connection, and it can even pass power to charge your device.
Dragon Touch S1 Pro
Gamers looking for higher definitions need to look no further than the Dragon Touch S1 Pro. It’s definitely one of the best portable monitors, featuring a 15.6-inch 4K HDR display with 100% sRGB color reproduction and a 1000:1 contrast ratio. It can also handle a 60Hz refresh rate and comes with its own set of speakers.
Ports include Mini HDMI, 3.4mm headset hack, and two USB-C. The cover doubles as a stand, and the screen measures in at 0.34 inches of thickness.