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Adding an external monitor to you work from home setup can boost your productivity when you’re at your work desk, but what about when you leave the house or office for a business trip, or want to work in a public place like a library?
Portable monitors have been around for a few years, but the technology has finally gotten good enough that we can finally recommend them to just about anyone looking to take a display with them on the go. We’ve done some research, and gotten hands-on testing with portable monitors, and they’ve worked far better than we expected.
The displays are ultra thin — fit-in-a-backpack-pocket thin — and light enough to carry anywhere. It’s possible to power them by connecting them to a computer without plugging them into an outlet, although their maximum brightness may be lower in that configuration.
The only snag we experienced was that you have to plug them into your computer with the included USB-C to USB-C cable, you can’t swap them out with another one.
If you’re starting to work outside of your home, or want to add an ultra-thin external display to your work from home setup, a portable monitor may be the right choice.
What Are the Best Portable Monitors?
There are many factors to consider when choosing the best Portable Monitor for you; below are the most important ones, which we considered while we were researching this list.
Screen Size: All of the portable monitors in this guide have a 15.6-inch display, which is the equivalent of carrying around an additional laptop-sized screen around.
Screen Resolution: All of our external monitor recommendations have an HD (1920 X 1080) resolution or higher, so text, photos, and videos will look very sharp.
Inputs: Commonly known as ports, inputs are what allow you to connect them to your computer, phone, tablet, or game console. All of the monitors in this guide have either a USB-C or USB 3.0 port. Both are capable of supplying enough electricity to power the monitor, and can transfer data quickly enough for the display to work reliably.
Compatibility: Every monitor below can work with both a PC or Mac without any additional software. The portable monitors with USB-C can also be used with the Nintendo Switch for a better gaming experience while you’re on the road.
1. BEST OVERALL: AUZAI Portable Monitor
In our testing AUZAI’s Portable Monitor struck the right balance between flexibility, portability, and screen quality.
The 15.6-inch monitor has a resolution of 1080P, and its screen was glossy, so colors appeared very clearly. Many of the portable monitors had a matte display, which reduced the amount of glare, but made everything look a little muted. By comparison AUZAI’s portable display looked crisp and clean the entire time.
This monitor comes with a foldible case, which you can use to position the display at different angles. I chose the most vertical position, which made it more comfortable to read, but you can angle it upward if that makes sense for you. This level of flexibility was nice, and the display never toppled over or fell during my tests.
AUZAI outfitted its portable monitor with two USB-C ports and a MiniHDMI port. The company said you should use one USB-C port to connect to your device, and the other to plug the display into a power adapter for the best results, but I had no problems running it directly from my Mac Mini or Samsung Galaxy Chromebook.
You can use this portable monitor’s internal speakers in a pinch, but they’re not particularly punchy. You’d be better off pairing your computer with a pair of nice Bluetooth headphones if you want to listen to music while using your computer.
If we could only recommend one portable monitor, it’d be this one from AUZAI. It performed very well during every test we threw at it without any problems, which has earned it the top spot in our guide.
2. ENTRY LEVEL: AOC I1659FWUX
AOC’s portable monitor has a high resolution display, built-in kickstand, and is VESA mount compatible while retaining a more budget-friendly price.
This portable monitor has a 15.6-inch 1080P IPS display, and connects to your computer via a USB 3.0 cable. This is the only port on the device, and can supply both power and data. AOC says the display can be used in portrait and landscape mode, and its kickstand will accommodate both configuration.
This portable monitor can be attached to a VESA mount, like Mount-It!’s Single Monitor Desk Mount, which allows you to position it precisely where you want it. You can use a VESA mount while on your desk, and remove it from the display when you’re on the go.
If you’d like a portable monitor with physical flexibility, but aren’t quite sure if this type of gadget is right for you, AOC has you covered.
3. PREMIUM CHOICE: UPERFECT 4K Computer Monitor
If you regularly work with high-resolution video or photos, UPERFECT’s 4K Computer Monitor is the best choice.
It has a 15.6-inch display with a 4K resolution, which means it has twice as many pixels as a Full HD monitor. Everything you view will look incredibly clear, which is necessary if you’re looking for subtle details in an image while deciding whether to make any changes. UPERFECT’s portable monitor also supports 100% of the sRGB spectrum, so colors will look incredibly accurate.
The portable monitor has a USB-C PD (power delivery) port, USB-C port, Mini DP (DisplayPort), headphone jack, and full-sized HDMI port on one side, and an additional USB-C port on the other end. The display has a detachable kickstand, so you can use it vertically or horizontally, and is VESA mount compatible.
This is definitely a deluxe portable monitor, and some of its features are overkill for common tasks like writing or web browsing. If you work with high resolution media, though, you’ll definitely appreciate the bump in resolution and color accuracy.
If you’re a creative who spends a lot of time on the road, or traveling from shoot to shoot, UPERFECT’s 4K Computer Monitor is the external display you should get.