If you work in an office (or a home office), you’re probably familiar with external monitors. They’re an essential component of desktops and they can be plugged into your laptop to give you some extra screen space. But there’s an intriguing alternative that we’ve been seeing all over TikTok lately: portable monitors. These lightweight monitors require only one cable, thanks to USB-C ports that can transfer data and provide power at the same time. And since USB-C is becoming standard on new devices, portable monitors can be used on nearly everything, including smartphones, gaming consoles, tablets, and laptops. Instead of being tethered to your desk, with a portable monitor, you can bring a bigger screen anywhere.
There is a trade-off, of course: Although they can’t be moved easily, standard monitors often provide better refresh rates and pixel density. Luckily, those things aren’t “really relevant for someone just wanting something basic for working at home,” says Sam Byford, our colleague at the Verge. For many people, it is worth that slight step down in image quality to be able to fold your monitor up and toss it in your bag to bring to a cafe, on an airplane, or simply to another room. To help you find the best portable monitor for you, we consulted six experts. Here are their top picks.
Best overall portable monitor
“The big promise of USB-C for monitors appears to be finally arriving,” writes the Verge senior editor Tom Warren in his review of the Lenovo M14. This 1080p 14-inch display weighs only 1.3 pounds and comes with a protective cover. There’s no battery, which Warren says “means your laptop, tablet, or even phone is tasked with powering the display.” But, he adds, “Lenovo is also offering an adapter to support power pass-through,” so you can charge your own device and power the monitor at the same time. “Lenovo has built most of the components into the base, which felt sturdy during my time with it. There’s even an additional stand at the base to raise the height of the monitor to better bring it in line with your laptop, which is a nice extra option.”
Best budget portable monitor
Portable monitors are “easy to set up and small enough to move to the side for extra desk space,” says TonyTechBytes, a TikTok tech video creator who often moves his portable monitor when he needs extra space on his desk to build a PC. At 1.76 pounds, the 15.6-inch, 1080p monitor is heavier than the Lenovo, but Tony says the extra weight doesn’t bother him. It has two built-in speakers, a USB-C port, and a mini-HDMI. “With its USB-C connectivity, I can easily plug it into my smartphone and have a larger screen on the go.” Although he moved back to his parents’ house during the pandemic, “I definitely plan on bringing it to my college dorm when COVID-19 safety measures are lifted and I move out,” Tony says.
Note: Amazon currently offers a $10-off coupon, bringing the price down to $180.
Eric Vasquez is a Twitch streamer and TikToker, and he says he loves his Auzai monitor. “I can take it anywhere! It’s super-light and takes up very little space,” he says. He says the cover provides protection and can also be folded up and used as a stand. The 15.6-inch, 1080p Auzai weighs 1.41 pounds, is about as thin as a pencil, and has multiple USB-C ports and a mini HDMI port. Caleb Korthals of HardwareHelpPCs also owns one: “I’ve had it for a number of months now. Instead of making smaller windows for multitasking, you can just drag a window over to your second monitor,” he says. “I can play a game and watch a YouTube video at the same time.”
Note: The Auzai has a $20-off coupon on Amazon right now, making it the same price as the Lepow above.
Best dual-orientation portable monitor
Grace Kim, a TikTok tech creator, has been using her Z1-Gamut for about a month. “The setup process was super-simple; it connects to my laptop through HDMI,” she says. Although she admits the portable monitor has weaker resolution than traditional options, “it is better than my laptop.” The Z1-Gamut can be used in either landscape or portrait mode, so if you want to scroll on Twitter and then view a lot of data on a spreadsheet, just rotate the screen. It’s durable, too, Kim says, noting that hers survived at least one drop.
Best portable monitor for reducing eye fatigue
“The Asus ZenScreen MB16AC is a 15.6-inch full HD display that comes in at just 8mm thick and features a foldable smart case that can act as a stand,” says Verge news editor Michael Singleton. Like the Z1, the “Asus’s monitor can auto-rotate between landscape and portrait modes.” Plus, “it comes with a ZenScreen stylus and a USB-A adapter for users without USB-C ports.” It also has a flicker-free backlight and a blue-light filter to reduce eye fatigue.
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