Whether you're on the go or simply want a second screen for your tablet, laptop, or gaming console, a good portable monitor can expand the capabilities of your devices and help boost your productivity. With screens that are roughly the size of a typical laptop, the best portable monitors feature at least 1080p resolution and have multiple ports for easy connectivity. While many models share similar specs, there are a few features you may want to seek out depending on what you plan to use it for and your preferences.
What to look for when shopping for the best portable monitors
Screen quality & features
The best portable laptops have in-plane switching (IPS) screens, which offer top-notch image quality, vibrant colors, and clear viewing that can be seen from a variety of angles. However, the resolution you need will depend on what tasks you’re performing on your monitor, whether basic word processing and computing, or more detail-driven work like editing or gaming. As a general rule, look for anything with a resolution of at least 1080p (which is sometimes marketed as “full HD”). Monitors with higher resolutions such as 2K or 4K are nice to have if you want an extra crisp, clear picture with lots of sharp detail. You may also want to opt for a monitor with high dynamic range (HDR), which delivers superior brightness and a higher-contrast picture.
Blue light technology
If you spend a lot of time in front of your screen, you may want to opt for a monitor designed to help reduce eyestrain, headaches, and fatigue. Low blue light output and flicker-free displays (sometimes dubbed “eye care” displays) are common features on a lot of portable monitors and can make long work or gaming sessions more comfortable overall.
Your monitor should have a couple of ports that allow you to connect to a range of different devices and a power source. The most common will be USB-C and HDMI ports, but you’ll want to ensure your pick includes the appropriate cables for power and connectivity. It’s important to note that portable monitors can drain batteries quickly if connected directly to your device for power. A secondary source like a wall outlet or reliable power bank can keep you going for hours. Also, most monitors come with the necessary cables, but double check that you’re getting everything you need before making your purchase.
Just as your monitor is an extension of your device’s display, if it has speakers, it can serve as an additional sound source. While you shouldn't expect your portable monitor speakers to offer studio-quality sound, they can be a nice addition, especially if you watch video, listen to music, or frequently take Zoom calls.
Size & weight
Most portable second screens for laptops have a 15.6-inch display, but there are both smaller and larger options, so you can find one that fits both your viewing and space needs. None of the options here weighs more than 2 pounds, and there are some extra-slim options that take up minimal space in your bag.
Whether you need an expanded display for work or play, the best portable monitors will make setting up shop so much more convenient — no matter where your travels take you.
Shop the best portable monitors
In a hurry? These are the best portable monitors:
- The overall best: Lepow 15.6-Inch Portable Monitor
- The best monitor with touch-screen capabilities: ViewSonic 15.6-Inch Portable Monitor with Touch Screen
- The best compact monitor: Arzopa 13.3-Inch Portable Monitor
- The best large monitor: Arzopa 17.3-Inch Portable Monitor
1. The overall best
Boasting an ultra-slim 0.13-inch profile, the Lepow 15.6-inch portable USB monitor will take up next-to-no space in your bag. The IPS screen offers 1080p resolution, while HDR technology provides high contrast and vibrant colors. The monitor can be positioned in landscape or portrait mode, and the combination magnetic smart cover and stand makes it easy to adjust the angle for comfortable viewing, while blue light technology works to protect eyes from discomfort. It comes equipped with dual speakers and a 3.5-millimeter audio jack for private listening.
This monitor is outfitted with two type-C ports, however, you can opt for a version with one full-function USB port and a mini-HDMI port.
A reviewer wrote: “I bought this portable to hook up to my laptop in order to work on dual monitors when I travel, or to work from a coffee shop or restaurant. The monitor has great picture quality, is thin and easy to transport. It comes with several different cables for all of your needs, as well as a protective case. I was impressed with this monitor and have enjoyed using it.”
Display Size: 15.6 inches | Resolution: 1080p | HDR: Yes | Weight: 1.67 pound | What’s provided: full-function USB-C to USB-C cable, USB-C to USB-A cable, USB-C to HDMI cable, power adapter
2. The best monitor with touch-screen capabilities
If you want the option of using your fingers or a stylus, the ViewSonic 15.6-inch portable USB monitor has an ultra-sensitive touch screen that allows you to zoom, rotate, drag, pinch, double tap, and more. The IPS screen features 1080p resolution for crisp picture viewing, and it employs a blue light filter and flicker-free technology for eye comfort. Note, however, that there’s no HDR technology, so you’ll get less contrast than with other options.
The monitor can be positioned in portrait or landscape mode using the adjustable magnetic stand that functions as a durable protective screen cover. Along with built-in speakers and an audio jack, it’s equipped with dual USB-C ports and a mini-HDMI port. At 0.3 inch wide, it’s just a tad bulkier than the previous pick, but it’s a small tradeoff if you’re in the market for a touch-screen option.
A reviewer wrote: “I have used this with my laptop and my Android phone. Using a single USB C cable, the monitor can be powered by my phone or laptop when connected. The touchscreen itself is far better in brightness and sensitivity than I would have expected. I am very happy with this purchase!”
Display Size: 15.6 inches | Resolution: 1080p | HDR: No | Weight: 2.1 pounds | What’s included: full-function USB-C to USB-C cable, USB-C to USB-A cable, mini-HDMI cable, power adapter, stylus
3. The best compact monitor
Measuring just over 13 inches, this lightweight monitor is your pick if you’re looking for something that takes up less space in your bag or at your workstation. To boot, the IPS screen boasts 2K resolution — the highest on the list — for a crisp, clear picture that shows more detail. Just as good, HDR enhances brightness while blue light-filtering technology helps guard your eyes. It’s compatible with a variety of devices via the two USB-C and mini-HDMI ports, and the magnetic cover doubles as a stand for viewing in portrait or landscape mode. Dual speakers and an audio jack provide sound for either out-loud or private listening. Weighing just 1.4 pound, this is the lightest, most packable portable monitor on the list, but note that it is slightly thicker than the first pick.
This option is also available in a larger 15.6-inch option with 1080p resolution.
A reviewer wrote: “Loved this monitor! Has a matte screen that I love, and is exactly what I needed for when I travel for work. Not bulky, very sleek and compact. Fits nicely in a carry on for flights. The case it comes with is a perfect stand too! Screen quality is more vibrant than my laptop. 10/10!”
Display Size: 13.3 inches | Resolution: 2K | HDR: Yes | Weight: 1.4 pound | What’s included: full-function USB-C to USB-C cable, USB-C to USB-A cable, mini-HDMI to HDMI cable, power adaptor
4. The best large monitor
If you don’t mind carrying something a bit bigger, this 17.3-inch portable monitor offers the largest display while still weighing a manageable 1.7 pound. The 1080p IPS monitor can be positioned in landscape or portrait mode, and eye-care technology works to prevent strain while HDR offers high contrast between brights and darks. The monitor has two USB-C ports and an HDMI port for connecting to a variety of laptops, gaming consoles, or smartphones. With a 0.37-inch thickness, it comes with an angle-adjustable magnetic stand that functions as a protective case.
A reviewer wrote: “Great monitor. It was super easy to install. Because I have a MacBook Pro, I was expecting to having to buy adapters to connect the monitor—but no! All connectors needed were in the box. The monitor is super easy to use. The quality of the display is fantastic, particularly considering the price of this monitor relative to competitors.”
Display Size: 17.3 inches | Resolution: 1080p | HDR: Yes | Weight: 1.7 pound | What’s included: full-function USB-C to USB-C cable, USB-C to USB-A cable (for power supply only), mini-HDMI to HDMI cable (for data transfer only), power adaptor