Are you old enough to remember the days before flat screen monitors? Big, bulky, and nearly impossible to carry with you, the monitors of two decades ago were a far cry from what we have today. But just because monitors are thinner than they’ve ever been doesn’t mean that they’re all portable. A wide screen monitor built with gamers in mind isn’t the most reliable option if you want to take your show on the road, and size isn’t the only consideration to worry about.
If you’re looking for the best portable monitor that money can buy, look no further than our guide. We’ll provide you with reviews of 10 of the best models and advice for improving your shopping experience.
TL;DR - 10 Best Portable Monitors:
- AOC e1659Fwu 15.6” Ultra Slim Portable Monitor
- ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC 15.6″ Portable Monitor
- Lepow 15.6” Portable Monitor
- ASUS MB168B 15.6″ Portable Monitor
- Loncevon 10.1″ Portable Laptop Computer Monitor
- GeChic 1503E 15.6″ FHD 1080p Portable Monitor
- Eleduino 15.6″ Portable Touchscreen Monitor
- G-STORY 17.3″ Eye-Care Portable Gaming Monitor
- Elecrow 13.3″ Dual Mini HDMI Portable Monitor
- UPERFECT 12.3″ Portable Monitor
1. AOC e1659Fwu 15.6” Ultra Slim Portable Monitor
One of the best things about portable monitors is that you can combine them together easily to create a multiscreen display without having to rely on bulky and expensive mounts or arms, and AOC has taken some serious measures to make that task easy with their e1659Fwu. The free Display Link software is all you need to set up multiple monitors on a single device with no expensive hardware necessary.
This portable monitor is one of the biggest around at 15.5 inches, but it sports an ultra slim design that can fit in practically any bag. And it's wired for the latest connectivity technologies too. The USB 3.0 port means better compatibility and faster performance with the latest machines. This portable monitor can also operate in both landscape and portrait mode, but it improves on that versatility through its pivot function that automatically determines the monitor's alignment.
2. ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC 15.6″ Portable Monitor
The ASUS ZenScreen costs more than double the AOC that started out our review list, but it's also easily one of the best portable monitors. This 15.6" screen supports a Full HD resolution that improves on the $100 AOC, while also offering nice bonus features that really justify its premium price tag. The most prominent of these is the ASUS Eye Care technology which offers a flicker free experience and reduces the fatigue and strain that comes from sitting too long in front of a screen.
And while this portable monitor supports the latest USB-C technology, it's also compatible with older computers that don't have these specialized USB ports. The whole monitor weighs a petite 1.7 pounds and sports a thickness of 0.3 inches. The result is an incredibly svelte portable monitor that's easy to operate and syncs up to your computer with little to no effort.
3. Lepow 15.6” Portable Monitor
If the most important factor for you is image quality and you aren't too worried about secondary features, this portable monitor from Lepow offers the same resolution as the ZenScreen at a significantly lower price. This portable monitor is compatible with just about any device, including Xbox and PlayStation consoles, a nice feat achieved by the inclusion of both a USB-C and a mini HDMI port. it comes with an adjustable PU leather shell that makes it easy to find the right ergonomic position whether you're sitting at your office desk or laying in bed.
In terms of both thickness and weight, this portable monitor is largely comparable to the ZenScreen, and the screen protector lets you take this out into the wild without having to worry about it getting scratched. It may be small, but this portable monitor somehow manages to pack some decent speakers into that meager frame.
4. ASUS MB168B 15.6″ Portable Monitor
The ASUS MB168B purports to be the slimmest and most lightweight monitor available anywhere, and while the confidence of that claim is somewhat dubious, it sits among the best of the best in terms of portability. It's roughly proportionate to the LePow and the ZenScreen and comes in with a retail price of less than $150. The auto-rotating display is complemented by a smartly designed sleeve that can adjust the angle of the portable monitor in almost any direction you could want.
The MB168B is also conscientious about reducing the negative impact of staring at a screen all day. The blue light filter can be adjusted easily through the on screen display of this monitor, and it provides some of the best brightness settings available in this market. And despite its smaller size, this is an incredibly durable portable monitor built to withstand the rigors of travel.
5. Loncevon 10.1″ Portable Laptop Computer Monitor
You won't find a cheaper portable monitor than the Loncevon, or at least you won't find one worth your time and money. This isn't the best monitor in terms of resolution, nor does it offer the best feature set, but for its price, it offers a tremendous amount of value and functionality. It comes with an HDMI in addition to a traditional USB output, offering it a greater range of compatibility than many of its contemporaries in the portable monitor market.
If you're looking for features, you won't find them here. Loncevon has trimmed down everything but the basics. It can work just fine as a secondary monitor for your laptop, but it especially shines when used as a screen for other household devices like security cameras, Raspberry Pis (or Arduinos), and camcorders. It even comes with an adjustable mount for when you need a more ergonomic approach.
6. GeChic 1503E 15.6″ FHD 1080p Portable Monitor
At first glance, the GeChic 1503E may look just like practically every other portable monitor in its price range. The 15.6" screen, 60 hertz refresh rate, and slender dimensions are par for the course, and you might even be turned off by the width of the bezel. But it offers something that's fairly rare in the portable monitor field: wireless connectivity. Combine that with the built-in speakers (or headphones connected to the included jack), and you have what's essentially a mobile multimedia viewing gadget.
This portable monitor comes with its own adjustable sleeve, but it's also compatible with a pretty heavy duty mounting kit. Capable of holding two separate screens at once, this tripod turns the portable monitor into a great choice if you want to use smaller (and more inexpensive) screens to create a multi-monitor workstation for your gaming or professional experiences.
7. Eleduino 15.6″ Portable Touchscreen Monitor
You'll never have to worry about compatibility with your devices with the Eleduino. Its wide variety of ports both futureproof it and ensure that it will work with even more archaic machines in your collection. In terms of image and video quality, this portable monitor offers an industry best 1080p resolution and a stand that supports a whole host of different viewing angles. Whether you're curling up in bed with a movie or trying to improve your productivity, this monitor is both portable and sturdy.
It also comes with its own built in speakers, but if you aren't allowed to blast music in your cubicle, it also includes a handy port for any standard 3.5 mm headphones. The color reproduction here is also top notch, facilitating a level of vivid reproduction that's some of the best in the business and especially great for chilling out to movies.
8. G-STORY 17.3″ Eye-Care Portable Gaming Monitor
The 1080p resolution that the G-STORY supports isn't all that out of the ordinary in a portable monitor, but combine that with the HDR support you'll find here, and the results are some of the best and most vivid image quality around. Because of that, it's potentially the best monitor for gaming on this review list. And that's even before taking the support for AMD FreeSync and the quick and peppy 120 Hz refresh rate.
This is a monitor built for gamers through and through, but professionals will find use for it too, and it can be especially useful for creatives in fields like graphic design and more traditional arts. It promises 100% accurate color reproduction for everything in the sRGB scale (the best on our review list), so you don't have to worry about the color on this portable monitor matching what you'd see on a more traditional screen.
9. Elecrow 13.3″ Dual Mini HDMI Portable Monitor
This modestly priced and modestly size Elecrow 13.3 inch portable monitor isn't the best in terms of any one quality, but it's potentially the best in how much value you get for its $150 asking price. Does it do anything out of the ordinary? Not really, but this portable monitor does include most of the standard features casual users would want out of a portable monitor even if it's not best suited to gaming.
The IPS display supports a 170 degree viewing angle, so it's one of the best choices if you want to distract the kids with some TV during a long road trip or the ride to soccer practice. And the video quality here is rather impressive for a screen of this size and price. In addition to its 1080p resolution, it also uses proprietary technology to achieve the best balance of color, brightness, sharpness, and contrast.
10. UPERFECT 12.3″ Portable Monitor
Touchscreen monitors are one of the coolest innovations to come to the world of personal computers in recent years, but the problem is that they can really drive up the price of a laptop. This UPERFECT portable monitor gives you most of the best conveniences of a touchscreen tablet without having to sacrifice power in terms of the laptop or desktop PC speaks that really matter. The portable monitor is compatible with a sweeping array of touchscreen enabled platforms and is sensitive enough to read up to ten fingers.
This is a smart monitor too. It will automatically adjust to the aspect ratio of whatever device it's plugged into. The dual speakers are a low key highlight - providing an astonishing amount of power for such a small monitor.
Portable Monitor Buyer’s Guide
Looking for the best portable monitors but unsure of how to parse all the specs and technical terminology? You’re in luck. Our review section helps you understand the highlights of each of the models on our best of list, but our guide can help you unpack what all of that means and prioritize the features and specs that are most important to you.
Is bigger always best? Not always. You need to think in terms of what you’re going to be using your portable monitor for. If you want it as a primary screen for your dedicated gaming console, a 17 inch screen will provide you with the image quality you need. But if you just want to lay on the couch and watch Netflix or you plan on making a multi-screen workstation with a limited office space, you may want to opt for something a little smaller. Consider the context of why you want a portable monitor before just going for the best and most high power model on the market.
If your portable monitor doesn’t have the right ports to connect to your existing devices, it’s not going to do you any good at all. That’s why connectivity is perhaps the best spec to examine when looking for portable monitors suited to your needs. While the past years have seen many devices move to a small amount of compatible components, there are still a handful of options to consider here.
- HDMI is most commonly used in media devices like Xbox and PS4 consoles, DVD players, and TVs, but they’ve becoming increasingly common on desktop and laptop computers as well. An HDMI should be more than enough to handle the maximum resolution and refresh rate settings for even the best portable monitors on our review list, and they’ll work in conjunction with most modern devices you could expect to use. One of their biggest strengths is that they can transmit both video and audio, a great advantage for a monitor that features its own speakers.
- USB is one of the more confusing options simply because there are so many versions of it. Fortunately, our review list only covers two types of USB connections: 3.0/3.1 and USB-C. Either of these standardized USB types should do a competent job of making the most of image quality. The one thing to keep in mind is that these two cables are different sizes and not compatible with the same ports. So you’ll want to make sure you have the appropriate version of USB port on your source device.
- One of the oldest video connections is the VGA port, but it’s largely irrelevant at this point. Unlike HDMI, VGA can only transmit video – and while it can support 1080p resolutions, it can only do so at a maximum refresh rate of 60 Hz. Also unlike the HDMI, VGA cables are very bulky and unwieldy. If you have a very old computer that doesn’t offer any other ports, a VGA will be fine, but it’s unlikely a lot of users will need to worry about that.
- DVI is essentially the replacement for VGA. These similarly don’t support audio, and they largely resemble VGA cables and ports in terms of shape and size, but they offer image and video quality well above what you’d find on a VGA. They can easily support a 144 Hz refresh rate at 1080p resolution.
- When you find portable monitors that have mini HDMI listed at one of their inputs, you aren’t looking at a whole new protocol. A mini HDMI cord has a traditional HDMI connector on one end and a much smaller connector that links up to portable monitors. But these smaller connectors have the same amount of pins as a traditional HDMI cable and thus offer the same high-level sound and image quality when connected to a monitor.
It’s easy to forget that any video you see on your screen are essentially just a succession of moving still images. The refresh rate refers to how often those still images are refreshed on the screen. If you’re looking for portable monitors for productivity purposes or even watching movies, you likely won’t notice the refresh rate since it’s measured in a matter of milliseconds. Refresh rate is really only going to be an issue for gamers who have to rely on twitch reflexes to succeed in highly competitive environments.
60 Hz is the standard refresh rate for most portable monitors as well as for traditional entry level monitors, and that will be enough for the vast majority of users. If you’re a serious gamer, it may be worth it to invest in the gaming specific model that features a refresh rate of 120 Hz. It doesn’t meet the best standard of 144 Hz, but that would be hard if not impossible to find in a portable monitor.
Resolution refers to the amount of megapixels packed into a screen: the more pixels, the better the image quality. If the quality of videos and games is important to you, this is going to be a very important factor to look at. 4K is the recognized gold standard for resolution, but unfortunately, you won’t find that offered on a portable model. The best you’ll find is 1080p.
But that’s not as bad as it sounds. Since the screens are smaller on the models on our review list, that means more megapixels can be packed into a tighter space, resulting in a clearer picture and video quality. But it’s still smart to invest in the highest resolution monitor you can justify spending money on.
Portable is the name of the game here, so of course it makes sense that size should be a top priority here. But while many monitors boast about their ultra portable designs and lightweight frames, there isn’t that much of a difference between them. Your standard for an ultra portable model should be a thickness of less than a half inch and a weight of less than three pounds. Anything within those parameters should be easy to carry.
From touchscreen interfaces to anti glare protection to covers that can also double as a stand, there are just too many factors for us to reasonably cover on this list, and the benefits of these features will vary depending on what yo plan on using your screen for. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider them. We recommend that you prioritize the features that are important to you, identify which models feature them, and then compare the raw specs of the listed models to see how they stand up to each other.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Best Portable Gaming Monitor?
The G-STORY takes the cake for the sheer wealth of gaming features packed in. In addition to a high refresh rate and support for AMD FreeSync technology, it also boasts the biggest screen size on our review list. Whether you’re a console gamer or a member of the PC master race, this portable monitor can provide you with some of the best power and performance available.
What is the Best External Monitor for a Laptop?
For laptop usage, we like the Eleduino. The best highlight here is the touchscreen built in to this portable monitor, but its specs are pretty solid across the port. And the generous selection of ports allows it to hook up easily to both the newest and the oldest laptops you’ll find.
What is the Smallest 1080p Monitor?
If you want to maintain a Full HD resolution with the smallest portable monitor available, your best shot is going to be the Elecrow 13.3 inch model. It’s also a monitor that offers pretty great power for its price. Just bear in mind that the value of a monitor’s resolution starts to matter less the smaller it gets.
What is a Mobile Monitor?
A mobile monitor is more or less what it sounds like: a tiny panel that can connect to devices like computers, video game consoles, and security displays. It can effectively serve as a secondary screen, and multiple portable monitors can be combined together to make the best workstation you can get on a budget.
The coolest thing about portable monitors is just how versatile they are. Unlike traditional monitors, they can fit in your backpack or purse, but they can also be mounted like a traditional monitor on an adjustable stand. And while they’re most commonly used by gamers or professionals looking to build an affordable workstation, they can be applied in a lot of different ways. The best portable monitor can serve as anything from an interactive picture frame to a home security monitor.
No matter what you want to use your portable monitor for, this list can help you find the best. And if you’re looking to use them for an office or gaming workstation, be sure to check out our review guide to the best dual monitor arms in 2020.If you liked our article on portable monitors, please share and comment below what your favorite product is.