Best Portable Monitors to Enhance Your Performance

Review & Comparison, Last Update November 1, 2018
As our laptops get smaller and smaller in the race for top portability, we've come to sometimes need an additional, bigger screen even when working on our feet or during trips. A portable monitor is a solution many have been seeking and now, it is available and even fairly affordable. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2018
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
SCREEN SIZE
WEIGHT
RESOLUTION
PANEL
REFRESH RATE / RESPONSE TIME
INTERFACES
FEATURES
COMPATIBILITY
ERGONOMICS
WARRANTY
 
PROS

The included ASUS EzLink technology makes it so the graphics are processed by the monitor hardware instead of the laptop's, thus lessening the load on the main GPU. When you disconnect and then reconnect the monitor, the last settings are applied automatically.

CONS

The supplied DVD driver requires an update.

OUR VERDICT

Thin and light, the ASUS MB169B+ is the best portable monitor among 15.6" models, it offers top performance and takes up minimum space in your backpack. The included Smart Case and the need of only one cord for both powering and connection make it utterly convenient.

detailed parameters
SCREEN SIZE

15.6"

WEIGHT

1.76 lbs

RESOLUTION

1920x1080 (1366x768 model available)

PANEL

IPS

REFRESH RATE / RESPONSE TIME

60 Hz / 25 ms

INTERFACES

USB 3.0 (model with USB Type-C available)

FEATURES

ASUS EzLink technology, Auto Rotate

COMPATIBILITY

Windows, Mac laptops

ERGONOMICS

ASUS Smart Case (a two-way adjustable stand and protective sleeve)

WARRANTY

3 Years

PROS

With a single port used for both data/image transfer and powering the monitor, the clutter of wires is reduced to a minimum. The fact that the port in question is a USB Type-C means the device will work with Windows laptops, MacBooks, and Chromebooks nicely.

CONS

The cord is somewhat stiff.

OUR VERDICT

For the features it has, this 15.6" external monitor is pretty cheap. It can be used with most laptops and you can set it both horizontally and vertically, the included protective case-turned stand allows this and the auto-pivot feature will turn the image without you doing anything.

detailed parameters
SCREEN SIZE

15.6"

WEIGHT

1.8 lbs

RESOLUTION

1920x1080

PANEL

IPS 

REFRESH RATE / RESPONSE TIME

60 Hz / 5 ms GTG 

INTERFACES

1 x USB Type-C

FEATURES

Low-blue light, Auto Pivot

COMPATIBILITY

Windows, Mac laptops, Chromebooks

ERGONOMICS

Tilt +5° ~ +25°, Smart Cover/ Foldable Stand

WARRANTY

3 Years

PROS

For a compact portable monitor at a more than affordable price, this model offers superb image quality thanks to the IPS panel, Full HD resolution, and the use of Splendid Video Intelligence Technology that enhances brightness, contrast, sharpness, and overall color rendering.

CONS

No instructions on settings adjustment.

OUR VERDICT

Utterly sturdy and highly versatile external monitor, both in terms of connectivity and when it comes to portability. Compact, thin, lightweight, and affordable, optimized for gaming, and generally a good choice for travels and work on the go.

detailed parameters
SCREEN SIZE

13.3"

WEIGHT

1.41 lbs

RESOLUTION

1920x1080 

PANEL

IPS 

REFRESH RATE / RESPONSE TIME

60 Hz / 5 ms GTG 

INTERFACES

2 x HDMI
1 x Micro USB 
1 x 3.5 mm earphone jack

FEATURES

Splendid Video Intelligence Technology, 2 built-in high-quality loudspeakers

COMPATIBILITY

Windows laptops, PS3 / PS4, WiiU, XBOX360, Raspberry Pi, Car audio/video, Industrial/medical equipment

ERGONOMICS

Sturdy stand, 75 x 75 VESA mount

WARRANTY

1 year

PROS

This model can boast two high-quality stereo speakers that produce more than a decent sound for a portable device like this. There are also two full-size HDMI ports.

CONS

The volume buttons are reversed.

OUR VERDICT

This HORI model is a portable gaming monitor for those who seek a decent option at a budget. A TN panel has a good response time, which makes gaming a pleasant experience. The included case is of premium quality and has a microfiber layer for added protection.

detailed parameters
SCREEN SIZE

15.6”

WEIGHT

2.65 lbs

RESOLUTION

1366x768

PANEL

TN 

REFRESH RATE / RESPONSE TIME

60 Hz / 8 ms (5 ms GTG) 

INTERFACES

2 x HDMI
2 x 3.5 mm earphone jack

FEATURES

Built-in stereo speakers

COMPATIBILITY

Any device with an HDMI port

ERGONOMICS

Premium outer shell and microfiber liner with adjustable angle ridges

WARRANTY

30 days

PROS

Very few models can compete with this one in terms of placing flexibility: the multi-mount kit and detachable stand take care of that. The latter allows setting the monitor at one of three angles while VESA100 compatibility and 1/4" screw hole enable using it with a bracket or a tripod.

CONS

The sound quality is meh.

OUR VERDICT

A nice compact monitor that will fit in a standard laptop bag, can be connected via either HDMI or USB, supports HD resolution. Good for gaming, video playback, and work-related tasks.

detailed parameters
SCREEN SIZE

15.6"

WEIGHT

1.79 lbs

RESOLUTION

1366x768

PANEL

TN (IPS available)

REFRESH RATE / RESPONSE TIME

60 Hz / 8 ms

INTERFACES

2 x HDMI
1 x VGA
1 x USB Type-C
1 x 3.5 mm earphone jack

FEATURES

Built-in speakers

COMPATIBILITY

HDMI and VGA compatible devices

ERGONOMICS

Versatile Multi-Mount Kit, Vertical & Horizontal Detachable Stand

WARRANTY

1 year

ASUS MB169B+

The Lightest and Most Portable Monitor

A plethora of users, many of them specialists in tech, agree that this ASUS model is the best portable monitor offered on the market today. Quite far from being the cheapest model, it is, however, worth every dollar you pay.

First things first. Despite being a 15.6" model, which is considered medium-large, the ASUS MB169B+ is extremely lightweight. At 1.76 lbs it is, in fact, the lightest among 15.6" models we've checked. It is also the thinnest, its thickness is only 8.5 mm. Both parameters are crucial when it comes to portability. Furthermore, it does not require you to carry along a selection of wires since it only has one port, a USB 3.0, which is used to transfer data and to power the monitor at the same time. It is very convenient and it leaves your other ports free. If you own a MacBook where there are no traditional USB ports, you still have an option with this portable monitor: the same model is available with a USB Type-C instead. It does cost a tad more, though.

Since it is an ASUS creation, it makes sense that the monitor is advertised to work best with laptops from the same manufacturer but its scope of application is not, of course, limited by ASUS laptops. As evident from above, it is even compatible with Apple devices so there is no reason to fear it not working with Windows laptops from different companies.

Review of ASUS MB169B+ 15.6" Full HD IPS USB Portable Monitor

Offload the Main GPU

Now onto the display specs and features. With the 15.6" diagonal, this portable monitor is offered in either Full HD (1920 x 1080) or WXGA (1366 x 768) resolution. The latter is cheaper, obviously, but both are of top quality. The monitor has an IPS panel, so its viewing angles are superb. It is also equipped with the auto-rotate function.

To enhance the user experience, ASUS has included in this monitor the EzLink technology. In a nutshell, this technology lessens the load on the laptop's GPU so that the graphics are processed by the external monitor's hardware instead. With this, a mid-range PC can simultaneously work with up to 5 such monitors, granted it has a sufficient number of USB ports, of course.

Finally, as a little extra, the purchase of the ASUS MB169B+ portable LED monitor includes an ASUS Smart Case that will protect the screen when you carry it around (in your hands or in the bag) and will act as a stand when you use the monitor.

ASUS MB169B+ 15.6" Full HD IPS USB Portable Monitor in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

AOC I1601FWUX

Versatility at a Core

The AOC 16" portable monitor is a decent option if you're on a budget but need a large external screen for your laptop. It is cheaper than most 15.6" models (and its viewable area is, in fact, the standard 15.6") but it does have the versatility and performance on par with some more expensive options.

Let us start with versatility. At 16" in diagonal, it is not the smallest model but it is well within the general limits of comfortable portability. And at this size, it weighs about 1.8 lbs, which is quite light, meaning you won't feel it as a ballast added to your bag, and it won't tip the scales, literally, when it comes to a carry on luggage in a plane, for example—if you happen to head for a business trip. And there is more. This portable monitor uses a single port to power itself (the lack of a battery is what makes portable monitors this lightweight so they are powered from your laptop) and as a connection port to transmit the image from your computer to it. Moreover, the used port is a USB Type-C, which is equally compatible with Windows, Chrome-based, and Mac laptops. If you have several different devices between family members, everyone can use the additional monitor when they need it.

Review of AOC I1601FWUX 16" IPS, USB-C Powered Portable Monitor (FullHD, 5ms, Smart Cover/Stand)

Good for Business

Now, this model can hardly be praised for its performance when it comes to movie watching or playing games with a dark interface; the reason for that would be a somewhat subpar contrast ratio of 700:1. The top contrast discernible for the human eye is generally seen on screens that have around 1500:1 ratio so what we have here is basically less than a half of that. It is, however, not a totally bad number either, at least not for a portable monitor. What we are trying to say is that this model is better suited for creating presentations to show your partners during a meeting, for writing documents, surfing the Internet for some data. If your plan is to use an external display for image processing, photo editing on the go, or gaming, you should probably check other models in our review.

For school/business-related work, though? It is a perfect choice, in some ways. Despite unimpressive contrast, this monitor has an IPS panel, meaning good viewing angles, and Full HD resolution, meaning nice detailed image. The Auto-pivot feature allows turning the monitor vertically as well as horizontally, the image will be rotated automatically and adjusted to the screen. It also comes with a Smart cover that acts as a stand and has two possible angles: you can set it with either +5° or +25° tilt, as you see fit. Showing your offers to clients will be nearly flawless. Besides, it does have a Low blue light mode to save your eyes from excessive strain when you work for hours on end.

AOC I1601FWUX 16" IPS, USB-C Powered Portable Monitor (FullHD, 5ms, Smart Cover/Stand) in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


 

Elecrow 13.3"

Almost Ultimate Versatility

The most impressive thing about this model is the range of devices it is compatible with. Besides Windows laptops, you can use it with most consoles, including PS3 and PS4, WiiU, XBox360, making it a good portable gaming monitor. A number of Raspberry Pi users has also reported this model to be a nice addition to their systems. In addition to all that, the manufacturer also states it is compatible with car audio and video systems as well as industrial and medical equipment. The only option lacking for the Elecrow to be called ultimately versatile is the Mac connectivity but alas, one can't have it all.

The connection with this portable monitor is performed via two mini HDMI inputs with the HDMI-to-mini HDMI cable (included in the purchase). You will also see a micro USB port included, it can be used to power up the device when there is no outlet available, which is often the case with portable tech, of course; you can use either your laptop as a power source or a power bank, for example. There is also a micro DC port with the included power adapter for when there is an outlet at hand. It is a convenient feature, you can choose to work from the grid when you have such a possibility instead of depleting your laptop's battery.

Review of Elecrow 13.3" Portable Monitor with IPS, FullHD Display, (Dual HDMI, Build-in Speakers)

Quality Image and Decent Sound

This is a small-ish portable monitor, its diagonal is 13.3". However, despite this, it still offers a Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution. On the IPS panel the display has, it means you will get a superb image quality with all the details imaginable and at practically any angle. Add to it the implementation of the Splendid Video Intelligence Technology that increases the image quality by enhancing all the individual parameters like brightness, contrast, and sharpness. Whatever else might be lacking but the image quality of this model is more than just decent.

Aside from image quality, there is also the fact that this model has two speakers at the back that will come in handy when you connect to a gaming console or a Raspberry Pi. Granted, they might be nothing to write home about, seeing as the manufacturers were restricted in what they can build in by the necessity to keep the body as thin as possible; however, for the price and portability, these speakers are not bad either. Plus, there is a 3.5mm port to connect headphones or external speakers if you find the sound quality lacking (which, truth be told, you probably will).

Drawing a final line, we'd like to add that this portable monitor is really lightweight and compact and it comes with a simple yet sturdy stand for convenient placement. If you're looking for a versatile and portable model and don't need it to be big, it's hard to go wrong with this one.

Elecrow 13.3" Portable Monitor with IPS, FullHD Display, (Dual HDMI, Build-in Speakers) in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


 

HORI Universal HD

Work with Two Sources

You can use this one with just about any device that has an HDMI port, and that's most gaming consoles, many Netbooks, some Ultrabooks and, of course, the majority of full-size Windows laptops. Furthermore, this external monitor has two full-size HDMI ports, meaning you can simultaneously connect two devices to it and switch between them when you need, without having to detach cables and change settings. That's multitasking at its finest, we must say. The operation is effortless and simple, there is little to no setting involved. Basically, it is a plug-and-play portable gaming monitor.

It is worth keeping in mind that this is not the lightest model in the industry—at 15.6" diagonal, its weight is 2.65 lbs, almost a pound heavier than the highly praised ASUS MB169B+, for example. However, it is also not really a heavy device, the best Ultrabooks weigh approximately the same, and those are created with utmost portability in mind. Besides, there is a legitimate reason for this weight: being created with gaming as intended use (among others), this monitor has a couple of really nice stereo speakers. While there are lighter options with speakers, most portable monitors usually have them provide a sound that is so-so in quality. Here, the sound you get is close or on par with standard laptop speakers, maybe even better than some. The speakers blare loud and distinct. And when you don't need the sound booming for everyone to hear, there are two 3.5mm audio ports for headphones, a port per device connected, same as with HDMI.

Review of HORI Universal HD Gaming Monitor (PlayStation 4 Support)

Sturdy External Gaming Monitor

Since it is widely advertised as a portable gaming monitor, it is not surprising in the least that it has a TN panel instead of an IPS one. While with IPS, you would have gotten somewhat better brightness/contrast as well as wider viewing angles, the TN panel here offers a faster response time, allowing you to play first-person shooter games. The display has HD resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels.

This portable HDMI monitor is encased in a rugged shell and comes with a sturdy case-turned-stand that has a nice microfiber lining; it is definitely travel-ready and will most certainly survive some bumps and light hits. It does need an outlet to work (the cable adapter included) and would have only benefited has the manufacturer provided an additional USB port as an optional power supply. Well, some sacrifices had to be made in the field of true on-the-go work when the monitor was optimized for gaming, probably. This, at least, it handles quite nicely.

HORI Universal HD Gaming Monitor (PlayStation 4 Support) in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


 

Gechic 1503A

For Any Taste

The GeChic 1503 model is offered in several modifications, including one that is a touchscreen monitor (the 1503I). The modifications are, obviously, priced differently, but the sheer fact of this selection is already quite impressive. Depending on what you need, you can have this model with either a TN or an IPS panel, 720p HD or 1080p Full HD resolution, or you can choose based on the weight, though the difference is hardly tremendous. However, there are features that are the same for all four modifications: 1503E, 1503H, 1503I, and 1503A.

All four options of this portable monitor are the same size, 382x246x11 mm and featuring a 15.6" diagonal. It is a more or less standard diagonal for a laptop so you will easily fit the device in a laptop compartment in your backpack when you need it with you. The 11mm thickness is very thin, no problem fitting it together with a laptop.

The selection of ports of this external LCD monitor is quite exceptional in and of itself. While most portable monitors use either HDMI or USB for connection with the source device and a USB or a power cord for, well, power supply, the GeChic 1503, depending on the modification, uses two HDMI ports (one micro HDMI and one Rear Dock Port) and a VGA for connectivity and a USB Type-C for power. VGA ports are analog and so they are inferior to HDMI (they only transfer video, no audio), sometimes you might, actually, find them quite useful as a backup port, at least. For example, when you need a minimum input lag.

Review of Gechic 1503A 15.6" Portable USB Powered Monitor (HDMI, VGA, Built-in Speakers)

Total Convenience

As was already stated, depending on what you need, you can choose a different panel and resolution. If you are going for a portable gaming monitor, a TN panel will definitely fare better despite slightly poorer viewing angles since TNs have good response times. On the other hand, a display with an IPS panel is a top choice when it comes to showing a presentation to your clients, especially if there are several people watching.

Regardless of the modification, the model has an interesting addition, a rear dock connector to enhance the overall user experience. The monitor comes with a versatile stand with which you can set the display vertically or horizontally depending on the task at hand. Another addition would be the specifically designed Multi-Mount Kit that allows mounting the monitor anywhere with VESA100 support, be it a wall mount or a monitor arm. Finally, all modifications have speakers, though they can be called okay at best and we recommend using headphones or external speakers.

Gechic 1503A 15.6" Portable USB Powered Monitor (HDMI, VGA, Built-in Speakers) in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


 

What Is a Portable Monitor?

It is of little to no surprise today to see a person sitting in a cafe with a laptop, working. And many of us who tend to work like that, on the go, know how challenging it can be to maintain high productivity when working on a small screen. At least, laptops maintain some semblance of a decent screen size, if not entirely comfortable compared to a desktop monitor. Netbooks, for example, offer even less space. But their high portability is unrivaled for many specialists today, from photographers and designers to sales people and managers on business trips. When you need more space to work faster and more productively but staying at your desktop is not an option, a portable monitor can save the day.

Portable monitors are lighter and more compact than those we have at home but they can offer an extension to most mobile laptops we are so used to carrying around. Compatible with Windows and Mac computer, most of them have the standard functionality of a second monitor—to duplicate your desktop, to split it, or to simply add some more space for additional windows and apps. Of course, there are apps you can install on your tablet to use it as a second monitor but those are sometimes tricky and a portable monitor usually offers more specialized functionality and somewhat better quality. Also, they are generally bigger since it's their purpose to be an extension.

What Features to Compare

A monitor is a tech, and it has a wide variety of specs, and if you've ever bought a monitor you probably know what to check out. However, when it comes to portable monitors, some specs that will be of lesser significance in a desktop come to the forefront.

Size and Weight

In a desktop, these are more or less the last things you consider—after all, it's not like you will move your computer all that often. With portable monitors, their portability is the reason for existence. You'd want your external monitor to be equal to or larger than the display of your laptop, and with tablets having anything up to 11" covered and apps to use tablets as monitors easily accessible, it stands to reason for us to recommend you start at 13.3" and up, though it is, of course, only our take on the issue. At the same time, too big of a monitor will be both, well, big and heavy to carry around. Artists and photographers might consider additional monitors larger than 15.6" in diagonal but for most other users, it is hardly necessary.

Smaller usually means lighter but all in all, most monitors for laptop external use are designed to weight less than 3 lbs for portability reasons. Even a 15.6" device will hardly be heavy. However, you do need to consider that it is an additional tech so do add its weight to your laptop weight and see if it does not exceed your comfort limits.

Connectivity

More often than not, external monitors are connected via USB ports. Sometimes, two ports are required for a single monitor so if your laptop only has one or its two ports are on different sides of the body, it will be challenging to set the monitor without a USB hub, which can slow down the connection speed. There is also the possibility of HDMI input in your model. On one hand, it means a better visual signal transmission and no need for extra drivers; on the other hand, it also means extra cords.

While regular monitors are usually compatible with any system, some portable models have limitations and it is advisable you check this before making a purchase. Windows is still the most popular OS among manufacturers though many of them cover at least Mac as well.

Display

It is quite easy today to find a portable LED monitor with Full HD resolution, though cheaper models come with 1366x768 pixels. There are models that support 4K as well, however, you will hardly be surprised to know they can cost almost like full laptops. The best panel for a monitor you might use outdoors is an IPS, it offers good viewing angles, and if you plan on gaming a lot, you might prefer TN panels that have the better response time, generally. The importance of color performance and response time depends on the tasks you plan to perform.

How to Set Up an Additional Monitor

Basically, there are two ways to use a second monitor: as an extension for your main one or as a duplicate. That is, if you use it as an additional monitor and not as a replacement of the main one, which is also possible on your Windows computer, for example, and will come in handy if your external monitor is better than your main one. The Extension mode is just that, an additional space for freer use of more apps. The Duplicate mode (also called Mirror mode sometimes) is a useful option for when you are making a presentation for your partners or clients and showing it without all the people crowding your laptop. The latter is often the case with business people traveling for meetings: a portable monitor allows to skip on printables for everyone, and it is simultaneously less messy and more environmentally conscious. So how you do it? First, connect your external screen and see to it that it is recognized by your laptop. Sometimes, drivers might be necessary but it's less and less often today. Then proceed depending on your OS.

On a Windows PC or Laptop

The combination of the Windows key with "P" (Win+P) is usually the one that will open for you the display mode selection. There, you choose whether you need a duplicate/mirror or an extension. It is also possible to set only one of the two connected monitors to work, be it main or external. Or, you can go to Settings > System > Display and set everything there as well, in the Multiple Displays menu.

On a Mac

The MacOS has a slightly longer path but it is also more straightforward, in a way. You just go to the Apple menu, then System Preferences > Displays. There, you will find the Arrangement tab where the position of monitors towards each other can be selected: which one is on the left and which is on the right when in the Extension mode, or switching to the Mirror Displays.

On a Chromebook

Not every portable LED monitor works with Chromebooks but some do. The Settings menu in Chromebooks can be found on the information panel right next to the clock, in the lower right corner by default (though it is customizable). There is a "Displays" menu there, and it offers configuration settings for Extension vs. Duplicate.

While it is possible to use the same menus on any of the devices to adjust all the parameters for your best portable monitor, like brightness, contrast, resolution, etc., these devices, same as full-size desktop ones, often have buttons for this very purpose so you can choose which way it is more convenient for you to do.

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Publish Date: 2018-11-01 08:01:45