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. Lenovo ThinkVision M14 14-Inch Portable Monitor
BEST PORTABLE MONITOR OVERALL
When it comes to a display that can function as an all-around workhorse, you need not look any further than the Lenovo ThinkVision M14, which is our pick as the best portable display. Able to connect to any device with a USB-C output, this 14-inch 1080p screen doesn’t require a separate power adapter, which offers tons of flexibility in where you set it up. Plus, at 1.3 pounds and 4.4 mm at its thinnest point, the ThinkVision M14 is light and thin, and the adjustable base can fold up so that you can quickly stash it away or easily toss it in a bag and take it with you wherever you go.
2. HP E14 G4 14-Inch Portable Monitor
The 1080p HP E14 G4 portable monitor offers much of the same functionality as the Lenovo ThinkVision M14, as this 14-inch display uses USB-C to connect to a laptop and power itself up while being nearly as light and thin. What sets the E14 G4 apart however is the fact that it’s rated for 400 nits of brightness (the ThinkVision M14 is 300 nits), which HP claims is the “world’s brightest 14-inch portable monitor.” This extra 100 nits is great if you are working in a particularly bright part of your home, or even outside. Backyard office, anyone?
3. Asus ZenScreen Touch 15.6-Inch Portable Monitor
BEST PORTABLE TOUCHSCREEN MONITOR
If you’re looking for one of the best portable monitors that you can use in more unconventional ways, the Asus ZenScreen Touch is right up your alley. Another 1080p display, the ZenScreen Touch not only has a bigger 15.6-inch display with 20-point multitouch capabilities, but it also has a built-in battery, so that it doesn’t leech off the device it’s connected to via USB-C. At 2 pounds and 0.3-inches thick, the ZenScreen touch is a little less portable than our other top picks, but for those who are often having to show video or PowerPoint presentations, this touch-enabled monitor could make your life exponentially easier.
4. UPERFECT 15.6-Inch Portable Monitor
BEST COLOR ACCURACY
If color accuracy is what you’re after, then the UPERFECT 15.6-Inch portable monitor is a great choice, thanks to the fact that it can cover 99% of the Adobe RGB color gamut and 100% of the DCI-P3 gamut. Even better, this 15.6-inch, 1080p display is rated for 500 nits of brightness, which is great for graphic designers and video editors who are working off of their dining room table and want something that can show off the finest details and most vibrant colors. Plus, if you want to use this for more entertainment-focused endeavors, it also comes with HDR support for less than $200.
5. Acer PM161Q 15.6-Inch Portable Monitor
BEST BUDGET PICK
The Acer PM161Q portable monitor is one of the heavier and thicker screens at 2.1 pounds and 0.79 inches, but it is one of the more affordable name-brand options here while still offering 1080p resolution, an adjustable stand and 220 nits of brightness. While it may not be flush with superlative qualities, it still has all the essential features you need and stands up with the best portable monitors, which is just fine if you’re only working with things like Google Chrome or Microsoft Office.
6. Virzen 1920×1080 15.6-inch Super Thin IPS Gaming Monitor
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, PCs and devices such as gaming consoles. It’s a lot of function without leaving any obvious wants or needs. Covering all the bases for under $200 makes this a worthy purchase.
7. Apple iPad Air
It may sound like overkill to recommend a tablet that costs $600 here, but if you’re a creative, or just want killer image quality, this might be the best portable monitor solution as long as you’re cool with a smaller screen. Thanks to the Sidecar feature in iPadOS and Mac OS, the iPad Air’s 10.9-inch display effortlessly transforms into a second monitor, offering that liquid retina resolution and wide color gamut that Apple has prided itself on for years. At 1 pound and 0.24 inches, it’s as thin and light as any portable monitor you’ll find, and it’s even rated for 500 nits of brightness.
With the Apple Pencil in hand you can also load up Adobe Creative Cloud on your laptop and edit photos or create illustrations directly on the iPad screen. Plus when you’re not using this as a second screen, it obviously stands on its own as the best tablet, and one of the best hybrid laptops around. The only caveat? You have to be a Mac user to take advantage of this.
8. Wacom Cintiq 16 15.6-Inch Drawing Tablet
BEST FOR CREATIVES
If you’re a graphic designer who uses Windows and needs a second screen for drawing, the 15.6-inch Wacom Cintiq 16 is the way to go. Wacom is one of the best in the business when it comes to interactive, pen-based displays, and thanks to the Pro Pen 2’s 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity and the Cintiq 16’s 1080p display, you should be churning out masterpieces in Photoshop in no time. The only downside is that the screen only covers 72% of the NTSC color gamut, which may not be ideal for more advanced graphic designers.
9. 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.
10. UPERFECT Touchscreen 15.6 Inch Monitor
BEST 4K 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.