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The Best Portable Monitors for Home and Remote Work

Traveling and want to bring an extra display to use with your work laptop? Get a portable monitor.

collage of three portable monitors
Courtesy

Whether you're working from home or the office, chances are you have a laptop and monitor setup. It allows you to have the big screen when you need it, but also the flexibility to take your work on the road. The problem with this is if you have to work away from your monitor setup for too long, you start to miss it. And you become less productive.

If you need an extra screen for your laptop more than you need it for your desk, a portable monitor could be the solution. It's cheaper than buying a tablet (many of which can double as portable monitors) and it provides the extra screen space that you’re used to with the external monitor. It’s also thin, lightweight and travel-friendly, so you can take it anywhere.

What to Look for

Size: The vast majority of portable monitors come in similar sizes to most laptops. On the low-end, you can get a 13-inch portable monitor. And on the high-end, you can get a 17-inch monitor. The larger the screen, the more expensive it's likely to be.

Connectivity: Most portable monitors these days connect to your laptop via USB-C, but there are some that require a HDMI connection. Some can do both, too, which could free up an extra port on your laptop (specifically if you have a Windows laptop).

Kickstand: This is a low-key, really important thing to consider before buying a portable monitor. Some come with integrated kickstands right in their body, which is really convenient. Other portable monitors, however, come with attachable stands that are less ideal because they aren't always the easiest things to figure out.

Battery: Portable monitors can come with or without built-in batteries. The ones with built-in batteries are a little more expensive, but they can last for several hours before stealing power from your laptop. Portable monitors without built-in batteries need to be plugged into a power source. This can mean your laptop, of course, but it will cause your laptop to lose power faster.

Screen: As with laptops, portable monitors vary in their display quality. You can get ones that have a higher resolution, higher refresh rate or even have a touchscreen — but all those add to the price. The majority of portable monitors max out at a 1080p display.

Speakers: Some portable monitors come equipped with their own built-in speakers. It's a nice feature, especially if you have an older laptop with not-so-great speakers or you're using the monitor with a gaming console (like a Nintendo Switch). However, if your laptop does have built-in speakers, you might find it annoying when the audio keeps switching to the portable monitor's speakers (in which case, you can just adjust this in your laptop's settings).

How We Tested

collage of macbook with various portable monitors
Tucker Bowe

The below portable monitors were used mostly in a work capacity — as a replacement for the external monitor in a setup with a laptop and portable monitor. We tested the portable monitors in split-screen and mirroring modes and judged them on brightness, image quality, ease-of-use (connectivity), their kickstand and any other features (like speakers and Wi-Fi connectivity). All the below monitors were tested with a 2017 MacBook Pro.

Notable Portable Monitors Not on This List

ViewSonic VA1655: This is a rather large 15" portable monitor that's also relatively cheap — often discounted for less than $150. It'll work with most laptops via a USB-C or HDMI connection.

Asus ZenScreen Touch (MB16AMT): This is a portable monitor that's basically a touchscreen version of the Asus ZenScreen Go (MB16AWP) that's on this list. The catch is, however, it's not compatible with Macs.

Lenovo ThinkVision M14t: This is essentially a higher-end, more expensive and touchscreen version of the non-"t" ThinkVision M14 that's already on this list.

Desklab 4K Touchscreen: This is one of the few portable monitors out there that has a 4K display (max) and a touchscreen. It's also quite expensive.


The Best Portable Monitors

Lenovo ThinkVision M14

Lenovo ThinkVision M14
Lenovo amazon.com
$251.99

  • Very travel-friendly
  • Great kickstand
  • Very easy to use with any USB-C laptop

  • No built-in battery or speakers
  • Not feature-packed

The Lenovo ThinkVision M14 is a small and lightweight, portable monitor. It's got a bright and vibrant screen and has a highly adjustable kickstand. And it's relatively affordable, although it lacks an integrated battery and varied port selection of higher-end options. It's a simple option that'll work with most USB-C laptops. The kicker is that it can be mounted (via a 100x100 VESA), which could come in handy if you want to use it even when not traveling.

  • Size: 14-inches
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • Connectivity: USB-C
  • Battery: No
  • Speakers: No

    Dell C1422H

    Dell C1422H
    amazon.com
    $399.99
    $269.99 (33% off)

    • Very travel-friendly
    • Great kickstand
    • Very easy to use with any USB-C laptop
    • Can be VESA mounted

    • No built-in battery or speakers
    • Not feature-packed

    The Dell C1422H is actually nearly identical to the ThinkVision M14 (above). Again, it's a smaller portable monitor that's fairly straightforward to use and will work well with most USB-C laptops. It delivers maybe a little brighter picture in our option and does a better job at blocking out reflections. But other than that, it has the same ports and a great integrated kickstand. It doesn't have a built-in battery, however, meaning it'll take power from your laptop or it'll need to be plugged into a wall outlet (power adapter not included) while you're using it.

    • Size: 14-inches
    • Resolution: 1920 x 1080
    • Connectivity: USB-C
    • Battery: No
    • Speakers: No

      Asus ZenScreen Go (MB16AWP)

      Asus ZenScreen Go (MB16AWP)
      ASUS amazon.com
      $460.79

      • Huge display
      • Built-in battery and speakers
      • Supports wireless connectivity
      • Great kickstand

      • It ain't cheap

      Asus makes several different models of its ZenScreen Go — so be aware of which one you're buying — and its MB16AWP is one of the nicest (and most expensive) ones you can buy. It's a 15.6-inch monitor with a 1080p display (and 60Hz refresh rate) and it has an integrated battery that can last between three and four hours. Maybe the neatest thing about this ZenScreen Go is that it has built-in Wi-Fi, so you can extend or mirror your laptop's screen without using a wired USB-C or HDMI connection.

      • Size: 15.6-inches
      • Resolution: 1920 x 1080
      • Connectivity: USB-C or HDMI
      • Battery: Yes
      • Speakers: Yes
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