While monitors have theoretically been “portable” for decades, lighter devices that fit into a carry case rather than a station waggon are a relatively recent creation. Are there any versions you’d truly like to use? They’re brand new, to be sure. While the advantages of having a second screen are apparent, we’ve previously neglected portable monitors on this site.
They were simply too pricey, had terrible displays, didn’t perform effectively, and were still far too large and heavy to move outside the house. All of that has changed in recent years, as screen technology has improved, USB C has replaced unwieldy cords and chargers, and competition has driven down prices.
Several businesses are now producing portable monitors that are worthwhile to buy, with sizes and capabilities to meet a variety of requirements. If you work from the same location all of the time, we recommend sticking with a standard monitor because you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck.
A portable version makes a lot more sense if you’re a laptop user who travels frequently, frequently hits deadlines from the café, or needs to set up and take down your home office every day. These are the best portable monitors of 2021, whether you’re on a budget, want the lightest version, or need a larger screen with a touchscreen.
1. Best Portable Monitor: Lenovo ThinkVision M14
Weight and picture quality would have to be the two most significant elements of a portable monitor if we were to choose. Lenovo, it appears, had the same thought and created the ThinkVision M14 as a result. The 14-inch display is smaller than most of the competitors, but it still has the same 1920×1080 FHD resolution as most of the competition.
This results in a little crisper image than usual, as well as a lot less weight in this example. It’s substantially lighter than our other suggestions, at only 1.3 pounds. The M14 features a distinctive design, with a clever hinge mechanism connecting the screen to a fold-up base. The display itself is only 0.17′′ (4.4m) thick and can be adjusted from a -5 to a 90-degree angle.
All of the ports and circuitry are housed in the base unit. The front of the base has a little “foot” that can be flipped down for added height, and the monitor is secure in both landscape and portrait mode. Overall, it offers far more watching options than anything else on this list. Color reproduction isn’t usually a strong point for portable monitors, but the M14 impresses here as well, with true hues across the spectrum.
It’s very bright, and the anti-glare coating ensures that you can see what’s on the screen even when exposed to intense fluorescents or sunshine. There are two USB C ports on the monitor, one on each side. It uses the laptop’s power as usual, but it also enables 65W power pass-through, allowing you to put your charger into one side, your laptop into the other, and power both at the same time.
If your laptop just has one USB C port, this is useful. There’s no support for USB-A DisplayLink, HDMI, or anything else, so USB C is your sole connectivity choice. With newer laptops, this shouldn’t be an issue, but it will be with older ones. The ThinkVision M14 is our best overall portable monitor option thanks to its light weight, excellent colour reproduction, and durable, flexible stand. There’s a lot to appreciate and very nothing to complain about if you have a current laptop with USB C.
- Very lightweight
- Good color reproduction and brightness
- Base acts as a sturdy stand
- Flexible screen angle
- Two USB-C ports, with power pass-through
- USB-C only. No USB-A or HDMI support for older machines
2. Runner-Up, Best Portable Monitor: Asus Zenscreen Go MB16AHP
Asus has a long history of producing portable displays, and it shows. The brand offers a variety of models, two of which have made it onto our list. The MB16AHP is a Zenscreen Go model. For most individuals, the Zenscreen Go MB16AHP is the best option, and it’s one of our top options overall. The monitor is thin and light, with a dark grey frame that is beautiful.
In 2021, a portable monitor with a 15.6-inch display and a 1920×1080 FHD resolution will be standard. It comes with a case that protects the monitor while in transit and also serves as a stand in portrait or landscape mode, thanks to some origami. The different grooves on the base of the stand can be used to change the viewing angle.
Despite the lack of a touchscreen, it comes with a stylus that can be inserted into the hole in the monitor’s bottom right corner to keep it in place without the use of a case. It’s strange, but it works nicely, especially if you’re short on space at your workstation. The monitor’s built-in 7800mAh battery, on the other hand, sets it distinct from the competition.
It can, if necessary, draw power from a wall socket or your laptop, just as other portable displays. Because powering a portable display depletes a laptop’s battery much faster, the MB16AHP is great if you’re working for long periods of time in a cafe or somewhere else where outlets are scarce. The internal battery can last up to four hours before you need to charge it with something else.
On the panel, there’s a single USB C port that handles both display and power, as well as a micro-HDMI port for connecting older devices. There are also stereo speakers built-in, so you won’t have to rely on your laptop’s mediocre speakers. Colors can be a little bland, especially in the red region of the range, but brightness and contrast are above average for a portable monitor.
It’s a problem that affects a lot of portable displays, so if you require the highest colour accuracy, go with the Lenovo M14 (above). Overall, this is a portable display that does almost everything correctly. It’s well-made, has good brightness and visibility, and is compatible with both older and newer laptops. It’s a strong pick for a wide spectrum of purchasers because it’s attractive, moderately lightweight, and comes with accessories that set it apart from the competition.
- Has its own battery and speakers
- Can use either pen or case to hold monitor in place
- Works with wide range of devices
- Colors somewhat dull
3. Best Budget Portable Monitor: Lepow Z1 Pro
When it comes to portable monitor makers, you have two options: one of a few prominent names (Lenovo, HP, Asus) or any number of Chinese companies you’ve never heard of. Lepow falls into the latter category, but it has been on the market for quite some time. The Z1 Pro is an improved version of the popular Z1 monitor, with basic specs that are precisely what you’d expect from a budget portable monitor in 2021: 15.6-inch display, 1920×1080 resolution, and subpar colour reproduction.
So, what distinguishes the Z1 Pro from the dozens of other no-name portable monitor manufacturers? It’s the little things that count. For starters, in addition to the ubiquitous USB C port, the monitor also has a micro-HDMI port and the necessary cords to use either option. The casing converts to a stand, as expected, but there are two grooves in the base that allow for a variety of viewing angles.
The stand only works in landscape mode, but the monitor supports portrait mode as well; you’ll just have to find another means to keep it in place. The Z1 Pro is surprisingly light for a 15.6-inch monitor, weighing only 1.7 pounds. Despite its light weight, the monitor includes a pair of speakers as well as a headphone port. The speakers are rather faint, so you’ll probably use your laptop speakers instead, but it’s still a pleasant touch.
The colour reproduction and brightness are the monitor’s greatest flaws. Reds and purples, like many others, appear washed out, and while you may adjust various settings to compensate, the alternative is that every other hue appears unnaturally saturated. The brightness isn’t fantastic either.
Despite having the same nominal 300 nits as our top pick, the ThinkVision M14, the Z1 Pro is noticeably darker in real life. Indoors in normal daylight, it’ll be alright, but don’t expect exceptional visibility in direct sunlight. If neither of these factors are a deal breaker, the Z1 Pro provides a lot of monitor for not a lot of money in a light and portable chassis. With a three-year warranty, this is our pick for the best affordable portable monitor in 2021.
- Good price
- HDMI support as well as USB-C
- Lightweight for a 15.6″ model
- Poor color reproduction
- Not as bright as the specifications suggest
- Stand doesn’t support portrait mode
4. Best Portable Touch-Screen Monitor: Asus Zenscreen Touch MB16AMT
If you’re used to having a touchscreen on your laptop display, there’s no reason why your second monitor can’t have one as well. The Asus Zenscreen Touch, as its name suggests, is a touch-enabled variant of the Go model listed above, with nearly identical features. Except for the Thinkvision M14, all portable monitors have the same 1920×1080 resolution on a 15.6′′ panel, the same internal battery so you don’t have to use your laptop for power, and the same subdued colour palette.
The screen is, of obviously, the most significant difference. If your device is multitouch-enabled, you’ll get full touch support on Windows and select Android devices, limited support on macOS (since it’s not built into the OS), and none on iOS. It’s relatively bright for a portable monitor, which is a nice change.
You get an Asus e-ink pencil in the box, same like the non-touch model, but this time you can use it for more than just holding the screen upright. The display is stable and quick to respond to your input, whether you use your finger or the stylus. The numerous settings are controlled via a single button on the monitor’s bottom that doubles as a five-way joystick.
It’s one of the finest menu navigation solutions we’ve seen, but there’s also a Windows software that allows you customise many of the same options. The Touch connects through USB C or a mix of micro-HDMI and USB-A, and all of the necessary connections and adapters are included.
There are two built-in speakers that work fine but are probably no better than the ones you already have on your laptop. If you’re looking for the greatest portable touchscreen monitor of 2021, look no farther than the Asus Zenscreen Touch, which weighs only slightly more than its non-touch brothers.
- Touchscreen works well
- Comes with a stylus
- Both USB-C and HDMI/USB-A options
- Internal battery
- Heavier than non-touch models
- Colors somewhat dull
5. Best Portable 4K Monitor: UPERFECT True 4K Portable Monitor
The vast majority of portable monitors have a maximum resolution of FHD (1920×1080), which is sufficient for many users. However, for those seeking something better, options are limited, and good ones are much more limited. That’s why you can’t go wrong with the UPERFECT True 4K Portable Monitor. It’s a display aimed at gamers, but it’s also handy for anyone else looking for a high-resolution portable monitor at a reasonable price.
With a 3840×2160 resolution, a 60Hz refresh rate, and a 3-5ms response time, this UPERFECT monitor is no wimp when it comes to features. It has USB C and mini-HDMI ports, as well as the necessary cables. Only in landscape mode can the protective case fold up into a stand. You’ll be able to change your laptop’s settings to portrait mode, but you’ll need to lean the display against a sturdy object or find another way to keep it upright.
The brightness levels are adequate, and colour reproduction is acceptable, though not as excellent as the Lenovo model. Stereo speakers are built in, as they are on many other portable monitors, but you’re unlikely to utilise them over headphones or the speakers integrated into your laptop.
This model’s price is usually competitive, and it’s not much more than some other 15.6-inch portable monitors. If you want something a little different, UPERFECT also manufactures a touchscreen version that automatically detects whether it’s in portrait or landscape mode and rotates appropriately, but it’ll cost you a little more.
- High resolution
- Well-priced for what it is
- Stand doesn’t work in portrait mode
- Average color reproduction