If you work on a laptop connected to a big gorgeous side monitor, chances are that monitor is still sitting on your desk… in your office, which has been closed for months. And now you’re sitting home with that laptop, with all of your apps and icons and files crammed on one little screen. Sure, you could buy an expensive and bulky second monitor for your computer, or even turn your TV into a second monitor, but there’s another solution. The best portable monitors provide a second monitor that you can slip into your bag and take on the go.
Naturally, there’s been a run on portable monitors since jobs moved from offices to dining-room tables and other home setups. And because this is a relatively new product, there aren’t a ton of products to choose from (although there are some exciting new products on the horizon). To help you out, we’ve combed the market and found a number of great options for different budgets and needs.
Check out the best portable monitors for sale in 2020 and see which one is best suited to release you from your single-screen doldrums.
1. Virzen 1920×1080 15.6-inch Super Thin IPS Gaming Monitor
BEST OVERALL PICK
The Virzen advertises itself as a gaming monitor, and with its wall-mounting capability and robust sound, it is a pretty great option. But that sound also comes in very handy for those now-ubiquitous Zoom and Slack meetings, as does the clear 1920×1080 HD resolution. It stands easily like an iPad case, and is just as easily picked up and moved when you’re on the go (within the house, that is).
With support for HDMU, USB Thunderbolt, and Type C hookups, the Virzen is equally amenable for Macs and PCs. It’s a lot of function, without leaving any obvious wants or needs. Covering all the bases for under $200 gets you the top overall nod.
2. Cocopar 4K 15.6-inch Portable Monitor
BEST 4K PICK
The best portable monitors don’t just offer functionality and portability; they also offer cutting-edge displays that put your laptop to shame. Crystal-clear 4K images are hard to come by for $300, but the Cocopar delivers well enough to make its way onto our list. The 15.6-inch screen looks even bigger thanks to the frameless design, and the Cocopar has portrait and landscape modes to help fit itself into whatever workspace you’re dealing with.
At a mere 1.57 pounds, the Cocopar is also one of the lighter models we checked out. The Plug-and-Play setup via the provided USB-C cable is dead simple too. The Cocopar’s image is actually so good you’ll wonder if it’s a waste to use it strictly for work. And when you discover the AMD Radeon FreeSync feature, which eliminates lags and image stutters, you’ll know it’s not strictly a work machine and go running for your Nintendo Switch.
3. ASUS MB168B 15.6-inch WXGA 1366×768 USB Portable Monitor
BEST BUDGET PICK
ASUS makes this model in full HD for $189.99, but if you’re just needing a monitor for work, and you’re not a graphic designer or video editor, why not pocket the extra $52 and go with the wide-XGA version?
The MB168B is crazy slim, about as thick as a pencil at 8mm, and weighs a paper-light 1.76 pounds. It auto-rotates between landscape and portrait display, and has a blue-light filter to minimize eye strain. Word of warning: While the MB168B is plug-and-play with Windows laptops, hooking it up to a MacBook or MacBook Pro requires leaping through hoops and there are better Mac options out there. But if you’re on a PC and looking for a solid portable monitor for a crazy-low price, here you go.
4. SideTrak Portable 12.5-inch USB Monitor
MOST INNOVATIVE PICK
A portable monitor that attaches to your laptop is great in space-challenged home offices. One which can then slide into the same profile as your laptop lid and pull a vanishing act? Yeah, sign us up for the SideTrak. At 12.5 inches the SideTrak isn’t as large as most of its competitors, but if you’re drawn to the awesome slide-and-disappear trick, you’re probably looking for something on the smaller side.
It fits with equal aplomb on Mac and PC laptops from 13 to 17 inches, and the screen can rotate 180 degrees horizontally to face away from the back of your laptop for effortless screen sharing. The 1920 x 1080 resolution is great, and it connects to your laptop via USB-C or USB-A (via adaptor) connection, where it also draws its power from. Honestly, we’d forgive lesser monitors than the SideTrak just to get the disappearing act, but there’s no sacrifice needed with this one.
5. UPERFECT Touchscreen 15.6 Inch Monitor
BEST HIGH-END PICK
And here’s your Rolls-Royce option — the UPERFECT comes with a hefty price tag, but lives up to every penny of it. How’s this for the total package: A crystal-clear 4K picture, frameless bezel glass to make the 15.6-inch picture look even bigger, responsive touchscreen, two USB-C jacks, a 1000:1 contrast ratio and 16.7 million color brilliance, and dual 2W speakers for great audio.
Even if you were initially thinking of a portable monitor as a temporary pandemic-busting solution, the UPERFECT will quickly have you thinking of all the ways you’ll use it even after you’re back to the office. Phone, gaming system, tablet, laptop — they’re all hugely enhanced when paired with the UPERFECT. The only shortcoming we could find was that the touchscreen will not work with a MacOS above Mojave. Beyond that, this is the gold standard of portable monitors.