Portable monitors were some of the hottest tech products for Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2022, and we expect them to be in demand this year as well. The lack of competition from well-known display vendors (LG, Samsung, Dell, HP) has led to a flurry of smaller and not-so-small players vying for a slice of an increasingly bigger pie. Four of the top 20 best-selling monitors at Amazon at the time of writing this column were portable monitors. Their versatility and portability - which standard business monitors do not offer - make them firm favorites for hybrid workers or commuting staff that yearn for extra productivity.
Collin Probst, B2B Hardware Editor
Whatever you need a second screen for, we've gathered our top picks to help you find the most appropriate one.
To narrow the list of portable monitors, we compared them across numerous aspects, like their size, weight, display type (1080p or 4K), and connectivity options (USB-C, USB-A, VGA, micro HDMI, etc.). We also looked at their latency, design, and stand and checked for touchscreen functionality, among other features.
These displays are much slimmer and lighter than traditional computer monitors. And, because they're that much more portable, some can even be attached directly to the back of your laptop to flip open when you need them.
If you're short on space but big on demand for extra screens, it may be worth considering investing in a portable monitor. There are some perfect ones around, and they don't have to cost enormous money.
For those with complicated workflows when doing productivity work or graphic design, having that extra screen can help organize it. You can keep all your apps and tabs visible simultaneously and don't have to scroll to find what you're working on. And they're straightforward to set up since most portable monitors connect using just one USB cable. They come in a few different resolutions and sizes, so no matter your needs, you'll find something that works, even if you want one that can go head-to-head with the best 4K monitors.
The best portable monitors of 2023 in full
The 15A1F is easily one of the cheapest OLED portable monitors you can purchase, with an asking price below $400.
What you get for that money is a beautifully engineered and lightweight screen that delivers remarkably punchy colours and excellent levels of contrast.
The trade-off here is that the screen is only 15.6-inches corner to corner and the natural resolution is only 1920 x 1080. That’s potentially not big enough for designers or those working with colour.
If these limitations aren’t a problem, this is an excellent design with a magnetically attached stand that allows both portrait and landscape use and inputs that work with both HDMI and USB-C connections.
In an ideal world, we’d of liked a regionally agnostic USB-C PSU included, a soft carry case, and a less glossy finish on the screen. But all these things would have undoubtedly made the 15A1F more expensive.
Read the full review: InnoCN 15A1F
The Asus ZenScreen MB16A Portable Monitor is one of the nicest-looking USB monitors we have seen, and it comes with several features and design considerations that make it an incredibly handy device and one of the best portable monitors.
However, it is heavy on the wallet, with the ZenScreen proving more expensive than many other portable monitors on this list. Nonetheless, the build and image quality of this screen makes it well worth the extra money. Fans of Asus' ZenBook laptops should be particularly interested in this device, as it has a design that compliments Asus' high-end laptops nicely.
The monitor is slightly larger than an iPad Pro, but it weighs only 800g and is super comfortable to carry around.
Read the full review: Asus ZenScreen MB16A
The I1601P portable monitor from AOC is a fantastic little kit, especially for someone looking to equip themselves for the new world of hybrid working.
This monitor is extremely slim and light and fits snugly into a laptop case or backpack sleeve. We also love the stand, which attaches to the front and back of the screen with magnets that anchor the I1601P in place - and it doubles as a screen cover.
The 15.6-inch full HD IPS display is extremely easy on the eye, which means long working sessions don’t result in undue strain, despite the relatively small screen size. And the display boasts an impressively wide viewing angle, too, so it can function well even on a crowded office desk.
AOC has prioritized portability and ease of use above all else. The result is a display that anyone can set up and start using in a matter of seconds; it’s a case of plugging in a single cable, and off you go.
Read the full review: AOC I1601P
The Intehill 4K portable monitor is a well-constructed monitor with a plethora of ports. However, there is no PSU in the box - as shocking as that may be. While it lacks a kickstand, the magnetic support and cover almost make up for it, making this monitor usable as is, without necessarily needing an added accessory. This 17.3" screen boasts a 4K resolution and features accurate IPS hardware.To power this display (if not running via a single Thunderbolt) a 30-45W USB-C charger will need to be sourced, but once that is taken care of, this monitor is fairly easy to work with.
Read the full review: Intehill portable 4K monitor
Digital nomads and traveling creatives will have more than enough pixels and features to work from anywhere with this 4K OLED touchscreen portable monitor. InnoCN has opted for a 4K OLED display so content creators can have a true-to-life color with low latency, six digits contrast ratio, and the deepest blacks possible while on the go. At the same time, the device's integrated battery is capable of powering smartphones and tablets.
Unlike some portable monitors on this list, the InnoCN Pu15-PRE comes at a premium. However, its 15.6-inch panel, aluminum frame, and three-year warranty help justify its cost. The included TPU sleeve protects this portable monitor while in transit and also doubles as a stand, but it does make the monitor a bit heavy.
Read the full review: InnoCN PU15-PRE
Frequently Asked Questions
How to choose the best portable monitor for you
Choosing portable monitor hinges on your use case and to what device you are connecting. The very concept of a portable monitor makes the most sense with a USB-C-equipped laptop.
That’s the most reliable way to connect a portable monitor and ensures both compatibility and plenty of bandwidth for any resolution a portable monitor is likely to offer. That said, many mobile screens also support old-school USB-A connectivity. Just be aware that it will require software and drivers, which could present a problem depending on your device to drive the display.
For most mainstream Windows PCs, that should be fine. For everything else, it could be more problematic. Running over USB-A can also limit resolution and color fidelity due to lower bandwidth. That said, some portable monitors support micro HDMI and even VGA.
Speaking of bandwidth and resolution, most portable monitors are 15.6-inch panels with a 1080p resolution of 1,920 by 1,080 pixels. But more compact models with 11-inch screens are available.
Battery or no battery is another critical question. You can get portable screens both with and without. Screens without a battery are cheaper and lighter. However, if you’re using a mobile screen away from the mains, they will drain your laptop’s battery pretty fast.
The final significant factor is brightness. If you plan to use your portable display outside, you want as much of that as humanly possible. Most are limited, only topping out at a little over 200 nits. Aim for the brightest you can get while considering that more glowing screens will use up even more battery when powered by your laptop.
The best portable monitors: How we test
We’ve tested various monitors to arrive at the best portable monitors for you. We evaluated the monitors across many aspects, starting with how premium the design and build felt, how lightweight the monitor was, the screen size, and whether it offered full HD or 4K resolution.
We considered how many types of connections (USB-C, USB-A, VGA, etc.) the monitors supported and the number of connectivity ports they had. We looked at the display brightness and the viewing angle width.
Importantly, we assessed how minimal the latency was and how good the display looked, in terms of the color accuracy and saturation. We also analyzed how ergonomic the monitor stand/cover was and what type of user the monitor would be best suited for.