Once you’ve upgraded your desktop to two or more monitors, it’s hard to make one again, but it’s not practical to carry them around with your laptop. Enter the USB powered portable display, a second monitor you can easily take with you.
These productivity-boosting portable devices use small, lightweight components and a single USB cable for both video and power, meaning you can bring a second screen along with your laptop or Windows tablet with just a little extra space in your bag . They are especially good for longer trips, where you have time to set up and spread out a dedicated work space. Here are the best on the market.
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What to look for with a portable monitor
A portable monitor is just a screen that works via USB. But there are a surprising number of variables in that formula.
- Link: what kind of USB connection does your laptop have? Most newer models use USB Type C, with video built into the specifications. But older laptops may have to rely on USB-A (the rectangular one) and slower DisplayLink drivers.
- Size: If you can̵
- Screen quality: Most portable screens use an IPS panel: slow refresh and response, but accurate colors. You can also check reviews for brightness as you may be using it under unpredictable lighting conditions.
- Stand: An often overlooked aspect of the usability of a portable display is the standard. Permanent, built-in stands are more adjustable and more reliable than a carrying case that doubles as a stand-up prop.
Best Overall Portable Monitor: Lenovo ThinkVision M14
This smaller 14-inch screen uses the same design language and build quality as Lenovo’s ThinkPad series of laptops, making it a lot better than the rest of the options on the market. The integrated kickstand is much more stable and streamlined than other options, and the double-sided USB-C ports are extremely convenient: you can connect your laptop’s power supply from both sides so it can adapt to tight workspaces.
The M14 uses a full HD IPS display, making it equal in color quality to most high-end laptops, and it comes with a smooth felt carrying case. It’s a bit more expensive than most of the other options, but if you’re a frequent traveler you’ll love the way it fits into your mobile lifestyle. The even more expensive Thinkvision M14t adds a touchscreen option, although most users don’t need the extra functionality.
If you need a screen larger than fourteen inches, the 15.6-inch ASUS Zenscreen MB16AC is worth considering. The stand isn’t that nice, but it can automatically rotate for portrait or landscape mode.
Best Overall Portable Monitor
Lenovo ThinkVision M14
This smaller, highly portable monitor uses a great 1080p panel and an excellent hinged stand design.
Best Budget Portable Monitor: AOC e1659Fwu
For the price, you won’t find a better portable monitor than AOC’s entry-level offering. The 15.6-inch panel is large, although the low-resolution 720p panel is weaker than some of the other options. But a unique fold-out stand (rather than an integrated trunk stand) means it’s more stable than many alternatives, in both landscape and portrait orientation.
This model uses an older USB 3.0 connection with the USB A port, so ideal if you have an older laptop without a USB C port. (You will need to purchase an adapter or go for a more expensive newer model if you don’t have A ports available). Surprisingly, the display has a port integrated into the back panel and a standard VESA mount, so you can use it as a full-size monitor or as a secondary display if you want to move to a more permanent workspace. Keep in mind that due to its reliance on DisplayLink software, it may not work well with macOS laptops.
Best budget portable monitor
Best Portable Large Format Monitor: NIUTO 17.3-inch HDMI
It’s hard to find bigger screens for a portable monitor because, you know, “portable” is right in the title. But if you need more screen space than bag, this screen from Niuto is one of the few 17-inch, USB-powered panels on the market. Designed primarily for game consoles, it includes a mini HDMI port for accepting video inputs outside of the standard laptop. It also has an integrated speaker, although it is weak.
But if you want to use it with a laptop, it’s more than capable of getting the job done, with 1080p video over USB-C and an IPS display. The included folding cover doubles as the display stand, which isn’t great – you might want to use a tablet stand instead. The extra format allows it to have a number of additional outputs, including a headphone jack and USB-A, and it comes with a separate power brick and mini HDMI adapter.
Best portable large screen monitor
Best Portable Monitor for Gaming: G-STORY GSV56FT
If you’re looking for a portable monitor that can actually take advantage of high-performance gaming hardware … well, you’ll be looking for a while. Many screens claim to be designed for gaming, but that generally means they have an HDMI input, and not much else. This display from G-STORY is the exception: in addition to some thoughtful usability features, the 15.6-inch, 1080p panel has only a 1ms response time and can handle refresh rates up to 165Hz, making modern game consoles and consoles look great.
The screen’s integrated, fold-out stand accommodates USB-C and mini HDMI ports, while two front-mounted speakers are sufficient if you don’t have headphones. If you do, there will be a jack right in the front. Note that to drive this more powerful display you may need to use two USB-C ports or the integrated wall adapter. The bag also includes a carrying case, an HDMI to MiniHDMI adapter and – a unique addition to this list – a remote control for volume and picture adjustments.
There is a more expensive option coming from ASUS, the ROG Strix XG17AHPE. But at double the price with a built-in kickstand, it’s only an option if price isn’t an issue.
Best portable monitor for gaming