If you want to be super-productive, the ideal scenario is connecting two or more screens to your desktop or laptop. You can have a spreadsheet open on one screen, edit a document on another, and chat with work colleagues in Skype or Slack on a third. 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.
In order to ease those travel woes we list the best portable monitors you can buy right now for work, play, and general use.
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. That’s not a guarantee, however, 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 does support the DisplayPort protocol, then you can simply 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
One display on our list relies on a TN panel while all 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 a requirement.
The best portable monitors for 2019
We divide our list of the best portable monitors into sizes. Our largest monitor pushes the “portable” limit at 22-inches, as anything larger simply can’t be fun to pack and carry. But if you want to play the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 in the back seat of a car during a long cross-country trek, the smaller portable monitors should help ease your luggage-toting burden.
Let’s dig into our list of the best portable monitors!
17 inches and larger
Our first portable monitor is the only unit with touch input. It’s also the largest with a 22-inch diagonal viewing area, making it quite not-so-portable compared to the others on our list. But if you’re participating in a tradeshow and need a highly interactive display, ViewSonic’s TD2230 should be a great, inexpensive solution.
Thanks to its size, this portable ViewSonic panel provides plenty of connectivity: HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA, two USB-A (5Gbps), a 3.5mm audio output jack, a 3.5mm audio input jack, and a dedicated USB-B port (5GBps) that connects to your PC. This monitor requires a power adapter (included) thus it can’t run on USB connectivity alone.
On the hardware side, ViewSonic’s display sports an IPS panel with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution at 60Hz. It has a maximum brightness of 250 nits, 178-degree viewing angles, a 1,000:1 contrast ratio, a 14ms response time, and a pair of integrated three-watt speakers. It includes a built-in kickstand but supports VESA mounting.
This portable display weighs 7.9 pounds and measures 5.1 inches thick.
AOC myConnect e1759Fwu
AOC’s e1759Fwu is smaller than ViewSonic’s portable display, measuring 17.3 inches diagonally. It’s the only TN-based display on our list packing a 1,600 x 900 resolution at 60Hz. Like the ViewSonic model, AOC’s display includes a foldable kickstand and VESA mounting support. But unlike the ViewSonic model, this display relies on a single USB-A (5Gbps) connection for data and power. There’s no HDMI or DisplayPort connectivity here.
AOC’s portable display boasts a 650:1 contrast ratio, a 10ms response time, and a maximum brightness of 220 nits. It also includes an automatic pivot feature that rotates your content based on the monitor’s physical orientation (landscape or portrait). This panel does not include touch input, integrated speakers, a headphone jack, or wide viewing angles.
The AOC e1759Fwu weighs 2.82 pounds and measures 3.14 inches thick.
Related: Best Lenovo laptops to buy in 2019
15 to 16 inches
AOC myConnect i1659fwux
Here’s another AOC portable display with slightly better specs at a smaller size. The i1659fwux is seemingly a smaller version of its e1759Fwu sibling but upgraded with an IPS panel packing a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution at 60Hz. Yet despite this upgrade, you don’t get the 178-degree viewing angles typically associated with IPS technology.
Measuring 15.6 inches diagonally, the i1659fwux features a 5ms response time, a 700:1 contrast ratio, a maximum brightness of 220 nits, and an automatic pivot feature that rotates your content based on the screen’s physical orientation. There’s no touch input, no integrated speakers, or any other type of connection outside a single USB-A (5Gbps) cable.
The AOC i1659fwux measures 1.39 inches thick and weighs 2.64 pounds.
Asus ZenScreen GO MB16AP
This 15.6-inch display packs a larger feature set than its AOC rival. For starters, it includes an integrated 7800mAh battery promising up to four hours on a single charge. It also ships with a foldable “smart case” that protects the screen and serves as a prop in landscape and portrait modes. 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 GO relies on an IPS panel with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution at 60Hz. It has a maximum brightness of 220 nits, an 800:1 contrast ratio, and Asus “Eye Care” technology consisting of a blue light filter, flicker reduction, and nine video preset modes. There’s even a built-in timer and crosshair for gamers.
Finally, the Asus ZenScreen GO relies on a single USB-C connection. The package includes a power adapter, a USB-C cable supporting DisplayPort, and a USB-C to USB-A adapter. It measures 3.14 thick and weighs 1.87 pounds.
Related: Best HP laptops to buy in 2019
13 to 14 inches
HP EliteDisplay S14
HP’s portable display relies on 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’s Amazon listing targets business though anyone can use this display for gaming and general productivity.
The HP EliteDisplay S14 measures 3.4 inches thick and weighs 2.20 pounds.
Don’t let the Raspberry Pi reference fool you: This display works with any device packing an HDMI connector. Measuring 13.3 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). Console gamers should also love the 5ms response time.
The Elecrow AUS50025E sports 170-degree viewing angles, an 800:1 contrast ratio, and two integrated speakers. Connectivity options consist of two Mini HDMI ports, a Micro USB port, and a 3.5mm audio jack. You can power this display using a USB connection to the parent PC or fall back on the included power adapter.
This portable display measures 0.59 inches thin and weighs 1.41 pounds.
Related: Best Chromebooks (April 2019)
Under 13 inches
GeChic OnLap 1101P
If you need a portable display supporting an old-school VGA connector, GeChic’s 1101P does the job. But here’s the catch: You’ll also need to purchase the company’s $18 proprietary cable, as the display doesn’t have the standard 15-pin female VGA port. Other connection options include Micro HDMI and Mini DisplayPort.
This display is based on a 11.6-inch IPS panel with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution at 60Hz. It has a maximum brightness of 300 nits, 89-degree viewing angles, an 800:1 contrast ratio, and a 14ms response time. It also includes a 3.5mm audio jack for headphones, two 0.75-watt speakers, a foldable cover to use as a display prop, and a tripod mount kit.
The GeChic OnLap 1101P measures 0.4 inches thick and weighs 1.5 pounds with the cover included.
The last product on our list may be the smallest at 10.1 inches (diagonal), but it has the highest resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 at 60Hz. Backing that resolution is a super-low 2ms response time, making it a great portable display for on-the-go PC and console gamers.
Johnwill’s portable display is based on an IPs panel supporting a maximum brightness of 300 nits, 178-degree viewing angles, and an 800:1 contrast ratio. On the back you’ll find a pair of speakers complemented by a 3.5mm audio jack on the display’s left side. It also provides a Mini HDMI port, one USB-C port (5Gbps) for data, one USB-C port for power, and two USB-A (5Gbps) ports.
Finally, this display ships with a metal stand and six cables. It measures 3.7 inches thick and weighs 2.24 pounds.
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