Happy Holidays! This article is part of our Holiday 2021 Gift Guide where you can find the best-of-the-best recommendations from How-To Geek, LifeSavvy, and Review Geek to help you pick the perfect gift for everyone on your list!
What to Look For in a Portable Monitor in 2021
Although portable monitors have the same primary function as regular monitors, there are a few specific things to consider before buying one.
Size is one of the most important factors, as it directly impacts the portability of a monitor. If you buy too large a size, you may have trouble carrying it around, which ruins the point! Also, you generally want the monitor to fit in your laptop bag or carry-on luggage. Fortunately, a wide variety of sizes are available on the market.
The available input ports on a portable monitor are also crucial to your buying decision. You want the setup to be as simple as possible. There is no point in lugging around multiple adapters, cables, or docks, and needing to do so would ruin the portability factor.
If your laptop has a USB Type-C port that supports DisplayPort Alt Mode, you’ll be better off with a monitor with a Type-C input. Similarly, if your laptop has an HDMI out or a DisplayPort, you can look for corresponding ports on the portable monitors. Make sure to buy the right monitor type for your device to avoid frustration down the line.
Some manufacturers also provide built-in batteries in their portable monitors, making them useful for when you are away from a power socket. You generally don’t want your laptop battery powering the monitor all the time, as you’d lose your charge fast.
Let’s not forget about screen quality, though. It’s a harsh truth that most portable monitors aren’t as good-looking as regular desktop monitors. So, it’s always a good idea to check what users or reviewers are saying about a particular portable monitor’s screen quality before purchase. That said, you won’t have any issues with the screen quality of our recommendations.
RELATED: How to Use Multiple Monitors to Be More Productive
- ✓ Factory-calibrated for color accuracy
- ✓ Low input lag
- ✓ Excellent picture and text clarity
- ✓ Good build quality and lightweight
- ✗ Touch functionality limited to Windows
- ✗ Not great for gaming
As part of Asus’ ProArt lineup targeted at the content creators, the PA148CTV is an excellent portable monitor for most use cases. It features a 14-inch full-HD touchscreen that comes factory-calibrated for incredible color accuracy.
In addition, the relatively high pixel density of the monitor ensures a good image and text clarity. So whether you are working on spreadsheets, writing, or editing photos, you are going to get a fantastic experience.
The monitor is well-built and weighs just 1.63 pounds, making it comfortable to carry around. There is a jog wheel on the back to adjust settings. What’s pretty cool, though, is that the wheel can also be used to adjust shortcuts in select apps like Photoshop, and supports Microsoft Surface Dial features.
For ease of use, the Asus PA148CTV has a built-in kickstand as well that provides a wide-tilt range, and it can be used in portrait or landscape orientation. You get two USB Type-C ports and one Micro HDMI for input. Both Type-C ports are power delivery compatible, so you can just use one Type-C cable to power and send the display signal.
Unfortunately, the monitor lacks advanced gaming features and has a slow response time. So while it’s okay for playing older games, you will be disappointed in newer titles. You’ll want a portable monitor that’s built for gaming instead.
Lastly, the touch functionality of the monitor only works with Windows PCs and only when you are using the USB Type-C port for input. If you’re looking for a portable MacBook monitor, there’s another option for you.
Best Portable Monitor Overall
Asus ProArt Display PA148CTV
The Asus ProArt Display PA148CTV is a fantastic monitor for pretty much everything except gaming. If you want a dual-screen setup on the go for productivity, you can’t go wrong with it.
- ✓ Vibrant colors and good text clarity
- ✓ Excellent reflection handling
- ✓ Full sRGB color space coverage
- ✓ HDR support
- ✗ Using in portrait mode can be tricky
- ✗ Low brightness
- ✗ No advanced gaming features
If you are looking for an affordable portable monitor, the Lepow Z1 Gamut is your best bet. This is a 15.6-inch IPS monitor that comes with a full-HD resolution and excellent build quality.
Lepow has used a metal frame to make the Gamut sturdy. You also get a folio cover that can protect the screen while you travel with it and act as a stand when you are working. Unfortunately, though, the folio only supports two tilt angles.
The Z1 Gamut’s screen is vibrant and shows sharp text. Moreover, the monitor has an outstanding SDR and HDR color gamut covering the entire sRGB color space. The Adobe RGB color space coverage is also excellent, so the monitor will show more lifelike and realistic colors. You even get a blue light filter to help with eye strain.
In terms of the inputs port, there are two USB Type-C ports and one Mini HDMI port. The left Type-C port can take both display signal and power, whereas the right is limited to just power. However, as the company has placed these ports on opposite sides of the monitor, it can become tricky to use the monitor in portrait mode.
Like many portable monitors, the Lepow monitor struggles on the gaming front because of its relatively slow response time and lack of any advanced gaming features. This is the type of portable monitor that’s just for productivity.
Best Budget Portable Monitor
Lepow Z1 Gamut
The Lepow Z1 Gamut is an excellent portable monitor if you are tight on the budget. From build quality to color gamut, it shines on multiple fronts.
- ✓ Wide viewing angles
- ✓ Slim and lightweight
- ✓ Relatively high pixel density
- ✓ Good reflection handling
- ✗ Relatively low brightness
- ✗ Slow response time
- ✗ No advanced gaming features
The Lenovo ThinkVision M14 is a slim and ultra-lightweight portable monitor that offers full compatibility with MacBooks. Its 14-inch Full-HD screen has a relatively high pixel density that makes images and text look sharp. In addition, the monitor has wide viewing angles and includes low-blue-light technology to reduce eye strain during long working hours.
Thanks to its complete coverage of the sRGB color space that is used in most web content, the ThinkVision has good color fidelity and can show bright colors well. Its coverage of the Adobe RGB color space is also decent but not enough for professional photo editors.
The presence of USB Type-C ports with support for power passthrough means you can plug the monitor into a wall adapter and use it to power the laptop while getting the display signal. Of course, you also can use your laptop to power the monitor if needed, so it works wonderfully both ways.
Although the M14 is made with plastic as opposed to metal, its built quality is decent. Lenovo has also added a flap on the back that acts as a stand and supports -5-degree to 90-degree tilt angle. Furthermore, there is an adjustable foot to increase the height of the monitor—all great features to make the ThinkVision a versatile portable monitor.
Best Portable Monitor for MacBooks
Lenovo ThinkVision M14
The Lenovo ThinkVision M14 is fully compatible with macOS, and comes with USB Type-C input ports for effortless connectivity with MacBooks. It’s also super lightweight.
- ✓ Excellent build quality
- ✓ High refresh rate and fast response time
- ✓ Built-in battery
- ✓ GamePlus feature
- ✗ Low brightness to overcome glare
- ✗ No HDR support
If you plan to game on the go, there is no better portable monitor than the Asus ROG Strix XG17AHPE. Its 17.3-inch full HD screen is larger than most portable monitors and features a 240Hz refresh rate, excellent response time, low input lag, and support for adaptive sync. You also get a built-in 7,800mAh battery for your gaming sessions.
The screen is excellent, and the colors look vibrant and saturated. Text clarity and viewing angles are also good. So whether you are gaming, web browsing, or watching videos, the monitor’s performance is going to be fantastic.
Asus combines the ROG Strix XG17AHPE with a smart cover that both protects it during transport and acts as a stand. You can use it to prop up the monitor in portrait as well as landscape modes. This ROG monitor can also detect the orientation and auto-rotate the source, but this feature only works on Windows.
You get two input ports with the XG17AHPE—one Micro-HDMI and one USB Type-C. These will provide seamless connectivity with most gaming laptops on the market. There is another port for a USB-C cable on board, but it only supports charging.
Among other features, Asus has packed stereo speakers that sound pretty great for a portable monitor. There is also a GamePlus feature that shows an FPS counter, timer, and crosshair to help while gaming.
While the Asus ROG Strix XG17 shines on a lot of fronts, it’s not perfect. For example, there is no HDR support, and the monitor doesn’t get bright enough to overcome glare in well-lit areas. Still, if you want to game with a portable monitor, you can’t do better than this.
Best Portable Gaming Monitor
Asus ROG Strix XG17AHPE
There are very few portable monitors that are great at gaming, and the Asus ROG Strix XG17AHPE sits at the very top. It has everything you need in a gaming monitor.
- ✓ Full touch support on macOS and Windows
- ✓ Responsive touchscreen
- ✓ Crisp images and text
- ✓ Good viewing angles
- ✗ Low brightness to combat glare
- ✗ Narrow color gamut
The ViewSonic TD1655 is an excellent portable touchscreen monitor with a 15.6-inch full-HD screen with 10-point multitouch support. While many of the portable touch screen monitors on the market don’t work with macOS, need expensive third-party drivers, or provide limited support, the TD1655 can be used with both Windows and macOS. The latter does require some additional driver installation, but in the end, you get complete touch and multitouch support.
The touchscreen is obviously the highlight of the monitor, and you can control it using your fingers or the bundled stylus. In addition, it feels very responsive whether you are navigating through menus or drawing using the stylus.
ViewSonic’s screen itself is also decent, and both images and text look clear. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get very bright and may have issues tackling glare in well-lit rooms. However, thanks to its IPS panel, the viewing angles are relatively good.
It’s also lightweight at 2.2 pounds (though a bit heavier than most of our other recommendations), making it excellent for transport. Moreover, it comes with a built-in stand that supports 0 to 60-degree tilt.
Inputs include two USB Type-C ports and a mini-HDMI port. While one of the Type-C ports can only receive display and audio signals, the other can also accept or deliver up to 60W of power, which should be enough to charge most laptops.
ViewSonic has packed a mini-joystick controller on the back of the monitor to navigate the display settings, and it’s pretty easy to use. In addition, there are tons of display options that allow you to adjust color settings, image settings, audio options, view mode, and more. There are two speakers on board as well that might come in handy in certain situations.
If you don’t want to go through the additional setup required on Macs for touch input but still need a portable touchscreen monitor, you can use Mac’s Sidecar feature and an iPad as the secondary display. It is one of the easiest ways to add a secondary touch-capable monitor to your Mac.
Best Portable Touchscreen Monitor
The ViewSonic TD1655’s touchscreen is not only compatible with both macOS and Windows, but it’s also incredibly responsive. The onboard mini-joystick also makes it very convenient to tweak the monitor’s settings.
- ✓ Excellent build quality
- ✓ Good picture quality and high pixel density
- ✓ Easy to use
- ✓ Affordable
- ✗ Not from a trusted name brand
- ✗ Need power adapter for a good experience
Portable monitors are a niche product, but several trusted name brands have released them on the market. If you want a portable monitor with 4K resolution, however, it is still slim pickings. While we wait for a big name to release a great 4K portable monitor, we recommend the Uperfect MDS-156A23.
The Uperfect 4K monitor has got excellent user reviews on Amazon, and many that have taken the chance on an unfamiliar name have come out happy. Buyers praise its build quality, ease of use, and picture quality. The monitor also works seamlessly across Windows and macOS.
There are two input ports—one Mini-HDMI and one USB Type-C. You get an additional Type-C as well, but that can be only be used for power. So whether you have a Type-C port with DisplayPort Alt mode or an HDMI port on your laptop, you will be able to connect easily. Unfortunately, the monitor requires it to be permanently attached to an AC adapter; otherwise, it enters a power-saving mode with just 20% brightness.
Uperfect bundles a folio cover for the monitor that doubles as a stand. It’s not the best cover, but it does an okay job. The monitor is also decent for occasional gaming and can connect to the Xbox, PlayStation, or Nintendo Switch consoles.
Amazon offers a 30-day return policy that is valid for the Uperfect MDS-156A23. So if you are not happy with it, you should be able to return it for a full refund. Uperfect is also quick in providing replacements if you get a defective unit.
All in all, the MDS-156A23 is your best bet for a 4K portable monitor on the market.
Best 4K Portable Monitor
The Uperfect MDS-156A23 is an affordable but great 4K portable monitor. It may not come from a trusted brand, but the monitor has excellent user reviews on Amazon.
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