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The best portable monitors in 2022: second screens you can use anywhere

(Image credit: Asus)

The best portable monitor is a great addition to your laptop or tablet, giving you a bigger screen if your device has a small one, or doubling up as a second screen for a serious productivity boost. Similar in size and thickness to a typical laptop screen, portable monitors can slide into a laptop backpack with ease. Most will also feature a tablet-style cover that folds into a stand, making it easy to prop up next to your laptop.

Best of all, a portable monitor doesn't need to be plugged into the wall, but can be powered from your laptop (opens in new tab) via USB, so your workspace doesn't need to be cluttered with lots of trailing wires. And some portable monitors even have their own built-in rechargeable battery, so you don't have to drain your laptop battery. A self-powered portable monitor is also ideal if you want to extend the screen space of your camera phone (opens in new tab).

These days, the best portable monitors range in size from around 14 to 17 inches, offer Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution, and use IPS or OLED screen technology to give you the best possible color and contrast accuracy, as well as consistent image quality regardless of your viewing angle.

So whether you're working from home (opens in new tab) or image editing on the go, a portable monitor can help boost your productivity while still maintaining total portability. Read on to discover the best portable monitors on sale today.

• See also: Best monitors for MacBook Pro (opens in new tab)

The best portable monitors in 2022

(Image credit: Asus)
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1. ASUS ZenScreen MB16ACE

The best portable monitor overall

Specifications

Display size: 15.6"
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Panel type: IPS
Max brightness: 250 cd/m2
Contrast: 800:1
Dimensions: 359.7 x 226.4 x 8mm
Weight: 710g

Reasons to buy

+
Small, slim and very light
+
Full HD, IPS image quality
+
Well priced

Reasons to avoid

-
Brightness isn't the best
-
Confusing model range

We'll start with the best portable monitor in terms of overall value. Asus produces several versions of its sleek ZenScreen portable monitor, with the 15.6-inch variants being the most common in the range. And at time of writing, the ZenScreen MB16ACE is our absolute favourite. 

You get a great quality picture thanks to Full HD (1920 x 1080 resolution), IPS colour and contrast accuracy, and a decent (though not spectacular) 250 cd/m2 brightness. Slim screen bezels keep the overall size small at 359.7 x 226.4mm, and just 8mm thick. Asus also includes a useful wraparound smart case cover that converts to a prop stand. And as you'd expect for a portable monitor, you tap into your laptop's battery via a single USB-C connection to power the ZenScreen. 

If you'd prefer to keep your laptop juiced up for as long as possible, then go for the ZenScreen MB16AP (opens in new tab) variant, which packs a built-in 7800mAh rechargeable battery giving you up to four hours of screen time.

(Image credit: AOC)
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2. AOC I1601FWUX

The best budget portable monitor

Specifications

Display size: 15.6"
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Panel type: IPS
Max brightness: 220 cd/m2
Contrast: 700:1
Dimensions: 376.2 x 235.2 x 8.5mm
Weight: 824g

Reasons to buy

+
Great price
+
Full HD
+
Light, compact chassis

Reasons to avoid

-
Viewing angles could be a bit better
-
Max brightness not great

Watching the pennies, but still want a quality monitor? Despite its affordable price tag, its 15.6-inch display still boasts a Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution, and it uses IPS display tech. So you can expect consistent color and contrast, along with wide viewing angles; although note that this is 160 degrees rather than the usual 178 you'd expect from an IPS screen. 

A USB-C connection provides a simultaneous video and power feed to the monitor. The almost identical AOC I1659FWUX (opens in new tab) model uses an older USB 3.0 socket, and it's heavier at 1.2kg as well as being bulkier, so the 820g I1601FWUX is definitely the model to go for unless you just don't have a USB-C port. 

On the downside, a 220 cd/m2 peak brightness is fairly weak if you're viewing under direct sunlight. And the gloss black casing and slightly large screen bezels don't exactly scream quality.

(Image credit: Viewsonic)
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3. ViewSonic TD1655 Touch Portable Monitor

The best portable monitor with a touchscreen

Specifications

Display size: 15.6"
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Panel type: IPS
Max brightness: 250 cd/m2
Contrast: 800:1
Dimensions: 355 x 223 x 16mm
Weight: 1000g

Reasons to buy

+
Touch screen
+
Very light
+
Full HD, high-contrast display

Reasons to avoid

-
Could be brighter
-
Not the thinnest design

Is a touchscreen your priority when it comes to buying a portable monitor? Then here's our top recommendation. ViewSonic's15.6-inch TD1655 is only 15mm thick and weighs in at a mere 800g, but still gives you premium IPS display tech that promises wide viewing angles and consistent contrast. 

The 1920 x 1080 Full HD resolution may not be 4K, but at this screen size it's easily enough for crisp image quality. An 800:1 contrast ratio is also impressive, and the 250 cd/m2 brightness should be punchy enough for this monitor to work well in sunny spaces. 

The TD1655 can be conveniently powered straight from your laptop via a USB 3.2 Type-C connection, or even a mobile power bank, so you can use the screen alongside your phone without having to find a mains outlet. The Viewsonic VG1655 is a sister model for those who can live without the touchscreen functionality.

• See also: Best touch screen monitors (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Innocn)

4. InnoCN PU15-PRE 15.6-inch 4K OLED touchscreen

The best 4K portable monitor

Specifications

Display size: 15.6"
Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160
Panel type: OLED
Max brightness: 400 cd/m2
Contrast: 100000:1
Dimensions: 358 x 233 x 6.6mm
Weight: 900g

Reasons to buy

+
4K resolution
+
OLED display
+
Internal battery

Reasons to avoid

-
Not cheap

If you're looking for the ultimate in image quality from your portable monitor, you'll find it here... at a price. This 15.6-inch, 4K touchscreen offers high color accuracy (100% DCI-P3) , exceptional contrast (100000:1) and a near-limitless range of colors (1.07 billion). You get a refresh rate of 60Hz, a 100,000:1 contrast ratio, a response time of 1ms and a brightness of 400 nits. 

This portable monitor comes with an integrated 5000mAh battery, which is up with some of the best power banks, and you can even use it to charge your smartphones and tablets if you wish. There are two USB-C ports, plus a mini-HDMI slot. And weighing just under a kilo, it's nice and portable too.

(Image credit: Asus)
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5. Asus ROG Strix XG17AHP

The best portable monitor with a large screen

Specifications

Display size: 17.3"
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Panel type: IPS
Max brightness: 300 cd/m2
Contrast: 1000:1
Dimensions: 399 x 250.5 x 10mm
Weight: 1060g

Reasons to buy

+
Larger than average screen size
+
100% sRGB coverage, blistering refresh rate
+
Self-powered

Reasons to avoid

-
Very expensive
-
Large screen = bulky on the go

If you need a larger monitor than the models we've listed so far, then check out Asus' ROG Strix. It's built primarily for gaming on the go, with its larger than average 17.3-inch screen size designed to give a more immersive gaming experience. But of course, his also makes it less restrictive and easier to view when image or video editing. 

That said, don't go thinking this will give you a larger preview area relative to toolbars and pallets alongside. The display resolution is still Full HD 1920 x 1080, so compared to a 15.6-inch portable monitor with the same resolution, the ROG Strix simply displays everything a little bit bigger.

But raw size isn't the only feature here. The 240Hz refresh rate is designed for super-smooth video playback and gaming, and the IPS panel boasts a seriously impressive 1,000:1 contrast ratio, along with 100% sRGB color space coverage and factory color calibration. There are stereo speakers up front as well. Positioning options are also well catered for, with a small tabletop tripod thrown in, along with a Smart Cover that doubles as a prop stand.

What's more, this display is especially unusual in the portable monitor market, because it conceals a 7800mAh battery, giving it 3.5 hours of mobile power at the fastest 240Hz refresh rate. That's great news if you don't want to suck your laptop or phone's battery life to power your portable monitor.

(Image credit: SideTrak)
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6. SideTrak Attachable Portable Monitor

The best portable monitor for smaller desks

Specifications

Display size: 12.5"
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Panel type: IPS
Max brightness: 300 cd/m2
Contrast: 600:1
Dimensions: 12.5" x 8.5" x 0.7"
Weight: 748g

Reasons to buy

+
Innovative attached design
+
Superb portability
+
High res for such a compact screen

Reasons to avoid

-
Only 12.5-inch screen size
-
Pricey for the display area you get
-
Slow response time

Short on desk space? The problem with most portable monitors is you'll usually need a large area to stand your monitor alongside your laptop or smart device. The beauty of the SideTrak monitor is it attaches to the back of your laptop's screen and hinges out to sit alongside, giving you dual screens without the need for extra desk space. You can even use your laptop as the name intends – on your lap – with the SideTrak securely supported by your laptop. 

The display's bracket attaches to a wide variety of laptops via special metal plates that have been designed not to cause any damage to your device, and the sliding support bracket ensures the SideTrak can be positioned just where you want it, regardless of your laptop's screen size.

At 12.5 inches, screen real estate isn't exactly spacious, but the 1920 x 1080 resolution does make it extremely sharp, and it uses IPS screen tech that should give reliable colour and contrast; great for photo viewing and editing. A 300 cd/m2 brightness is also respectable, as is the frugal 4.5W power consumption. What's more, despite requiring the extra hardware bracket to attach to your monitor, weight is still impressively low at 748g.

This isn't a screen designed for gaming though, as the 30ms response time is positively sluggish, and the 600:1 contrast ratio is nothing special. You can also find larger, better-specced portable monitors for less money, but if you want to extend your laptop's screen in the most convenient way possible, the SideTrak could well be worth the extra outlay.

(Image credit: HP)
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7. HP E14 G4 Portable Monitor

The best portable monitor with a 14-inch screen

Specifications

Display size: 14"
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Panel type: IPS
Max brightness: 400 cd/m2
Contrast: 800:1
Dimensions: 32.1 x 21.0 x 1.5cm
Weight: 640g

Reasons to buy

+
Small, light and sleek
+
Good screen specs
+
Handy built-in stand

Reasons to avoid

-
Priced slightly higher than similar rivals

If portability is paramount for you, this 14-inch monitor may be the best pick for you, as it's slightly smaller than most of its rivals, and the screen is also a wafer-thin 15mm. Thankfully, you don't get a lower screen resolution: this is still a Full HD 1920 x 1080 panel, translating to super-crisp image quality due to the relatively small display area. 

This is also a premium IPS screen, so expect accurate color and contrast, along with wide viewing angles. Brightness is also impressive for a portable monitor, peaking at 400 cd/m2. The panel's efficient 6W typical power consumption means it can be powered direct from your laptop via USB-C.

How we test monitors

We evaluate a monitor with particular attention given to its core image quality, including brightness, contrast, color vibrancy and accuracy. While this can - and will - be assessed by the experienced eye of our professional reviewer, some manufacturer screen specs can only be definitively judged by an 'electronic eye' - a monitor calibrator. Where possible, a calibration device will be placed on the screen to verify its advertised color space coverage, brightness output and consistency, and factory color calibration accuracy. Beyond image quality, we'll also scrutinise the monitor's display and data ports to ensure acceptable connectivity, and will give a thorough assessment of build quality, including the range of ergonomic adjustment in its stand. Only then will we determine if a screen is worthy of use by a discerning imaging or video enthusiast.

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Ben is the Imaging Labs manager, responsible for all the testing on Digital Camera World and across the entire photography portfolio at Future. Whether he's in the lab testing the sharpness of new lenses, the resolution of the latest image sensors, the zoom range of monster bridge cameras or even the latest camera phones, Ben is our go-to guy for technical insight. He's also the team's man-at-arms when it comes to camera bags, filters, memory cards, and all manner of camera accessories – his lab is a bit like the Batcave of photography! With years of experience trialling and testing kit, he's a human encyclopedia of benchmarks when it comes to recommending the best buys. 

With contributions from