If you’re accustomed to working with a notebook computer, you’re probably used to having a limited size display. One way to maximize your productivity is by adding a second portable monitor to your computer which allows for easier multitasking and more on-screen real estate.
Using a portable monitor with your laptop computer allows you to multitask and offers plenty of … [+]
Portable monitors designed specifically for use with a notebook computer come in a wide range of screen sizes, with different resolutions and varying refresh rates. Some models also offer a touchscreen display, multiple ports and built-in speakers.
Some of these monitors use their own rechargeable battery for power, while others are powered by your notebook computer’s battery or power supply. You’ll also discover that some portable monitors have their own adjustable tabletop stands, while some have mounts that attach to the back of your computer’s existing screen.
Available on Amazon for $219 (regularly priced at $269), this 15.6” Full HD IPS LCD monitor offers 1920 x 1080 resolution with a refresh rate of 60Hz and a 16:9 aspect ratio. The monitor has built-in 2W stereo speakers, and it connects to a computer via a USB-C cable. On the side of the monitor are two USB-C ports, a Mini-HDMI port, and a 3.5mm audio input.
The Newsoul monitor is set up for either horizontal or vertical usage. With no special drivers or software required (it’s Plug & Play), this affordable monitor will work with either a Windows PC or MacBook. The unit measures 14 x 8.8 x 0.43 inches and weighs 1.99 pounds.
It comes with a wall mount and foldable screen cover which doubles as a stand. With no built-in battery, this monitor relies on power from your computer. Thus, if you’re using the computer and monitor while both are powered by the computer’s battery, this will reduce the computer’s battery life considerably. Of course, you can plug the computer and/or monitor into an AC power outlet when your work environment permits to prevent this.
Whether you’re using this monitor for everyday computing tasks, viewing photos or videos, or playing games, you’ll find it offers a really nice viewing experience with impressive color reproduction at a really attractive price.
This 14-inch display offers 1920 x 1080 IPS resolution with a screen refresh rate of 60Hz and a 16:9 aspect ratio. It can display 16.7 million colors and offers low blue light technology, so it’ll help prevent eye fatigue. The ThinkVision offers compatibility with any computer with a USB-C port. Use it to mirror your laptop computer’s screen when presenting to clients, or as a second screen when you need to multitask.
One thing this monitor lacks is brightness, especially if you’ll be using it in well-lit environments. It relies on your computer’s battery or power source to power itself. Thanks to its two built-in USB-C ports, you can plug it into your computer from either side. While one USB-C port is needed to connect the monitor to your computer, the second can be plugged into a power adapter and simultaneously power both devices while recharging your computer.
The unit measures 12.72 x 8.23 x 3.82 inches and weighs just 1.30 pounds. It comes with a pouch for transport, and has a built-in adjustable stand as its base.
You don’t need to be using a Dell computer to take advantage of the Dell 14 Portable Monitor, which works nicely with Windows PCs or MacBooks. This is a 14” monitor that connects to your computer via a USB-C cable connection using “plug & play,” which means you don’t need any special software to connect and use it as a second screen or to mirror your laptop computer’s monitor.
There’s a USB-C port located on both sides of the monitor. One port can be used to connect the monitor with your computer, while the other can be used to plug in a power adapter and utilize pass through power—for powering both the computer and monitor simultaneously. Otherwise, the monitor draws its power from your computer’s battery.
To help prevent eye strain, this monitor features ComfortView, which reduces potentially harmful blue light emissions. The Dell 14 is an LED monitor with 1920 x 1080 resolution at 60Hz, with a 16:9 aspect ratio. It can display 16.7 million colors, and measures 12.69 x 7.98 x 0.56 inches (with its built-in stand). Weighing in at a mere 1.3 pounds, it’s one of the lightest portable monitors you’ll find anywhere.
Using the monitor’s stand, it’s possible to adjust the viewing angle between 10 and 90 degrees. What this portable monitor lacks are built-in speakers and its own battery. What it offers, however, is impressive resolution and brightness, along with convenience and portability.
This ASUS ROG Strix model is a stunning, rather large (17.3”) Full HD monitor that supports 1920 x 1080 ISP resolution at up to a 240Hz refresh rate and 3ms (GTG) for viewing extra-smooth gaming graphics. This is the highest refresh rate you’ll currently find in a portable monitor.
Connect this monitor to your computer via the monitor’s USB-C or micro-HDMI port. In addition to superior graphics (compared to other portable monitors), this one uses its own internal rechargeable battery as its power source. The battery lasts for up to 3.5 hours when taking advantage of the impressive 240Hz refresh rate.
Despite its large screen size, the actual size and weight of the entire unit is rather small and very thin. It measures 15.71 x 9.86 x 0.39 inches and weighs 2.34 pounds. The ASUS ROG Strix XG17AHP comes with a collapsible tabletop tripod mount, a separate Smart Cover that folds over to serve as a stand when the monitor is in use, and a carrying case.
A power adapter, USB Type-C-to-A adapter, USB-C cable, and Micro-HDMI to HDMI cable are included. For gamers on the go, this is the portable monitor you want to be using to complement your laptop computer’s primary screen. Of course, anyone will enjoy the superior graphics this monitor can showcase when viewing video content, business presentations, high-resolution digital images or any other graphic-intensive applications.
While this monitor doesn’t offer the superior graphics capabilities with the ultra-high refresh rate of the ASUS ROG Strix XG17AHP, this slightly smaller unit does have its own built-in rechargeable battery, two 1W internal speakers, and a Full HD IPS touchscreen display.
It’s extremely thin (0.3 inches), weighs less than two pounds, and adapts automatically to being positioned horizontally or vertically. Built into the monitor is Asus Eye Care technology with TUV Rhineland-certified flicker-free backlighting and blue light filtering.
Connect the ASUS ZenScreen 15.6” 1080p Portable Touch Monitor to your computer via a USB-C or micro-HDMI cable and take advantage of the internal battery to power the monitor for up to four hours of operation per charge. The monitor comes with a foldable Smart Case, which protects the screen during transport, but folds out to create a multi-position tabletop stand.
You’ll experience 1920 x 1080 resolution at a 60Hz refresh rate with a 16:9 aspect ratio from this LED portable monitor. It measures just 9 x 14.2 x 0.4 inches. This is a really useful, general-purpose monitor that offers a nice size screen, yet remains very portable.
What’s nice about this 15.6-inch Full HD portable monitor is that it offers a touchscreen that makes photo editing (using a finger or stylus), as well as swiping, writing and annotating directly on the screen a smooth and natural process. The monitor comes with a screen cover and a built-in stand, allowing it to be oriented either horizontally or vertically. Connect the monitor to your computer via its USB-C or Mini-HDMI port.
This is a great portable monitor for photographers on the go who need to preview, edit,or showcase their work in the field while utilizing a flicker-free screen with a blue light filter. While the monitor lacks its own built-in battery, it can either utilize your computer’s power supply or be plugged into an electrical outlet and power both the computer and monitor simultaneously. Two 0.8W speakers are built-into the LCD monitor.
Priced under $300, from this monitor, you’ll experience 1920 x 1080 resolution with a 60Hz refresh rate and a 16:9 aspect ratio. The unit measures 14 x 8.8 x 0.6 inches and weighs 2.2 pounds. It comes with a built-in protective cover/stand and wall mount, as well as a Passive Touch Pen (stylus). With free vTouch software, MacBook users can take advantage of the monitor’s touchscreen, as opposed to simply using it as a second display. The touchscreen works without extra software if you’re using a Windows 10/Windows 11 computer.
This 15.6-inch portable monitor also utilizes an ultra-thin (0.2-inch thick) touchscreen that can connect to your computer via a USB-C connector or Mini-HDMI cable. You’ll experience on-screen graphics and smooth animations that feature more than 16 million colors from the display’s 1920 x 1989 Full HD resolution (with a 60Hz refresh rate and 16:10 aspect ratio).
Using either the optional MountPro ($49) or MountGo ($69) stand (which work with magnets), it’s easy to rotate the screen for horizontal or vertical viewing. The monitor, however, has a built-in kickstand on the back.
To utilize the touchscreen aspect of the display with a Mac, the Espresso Mac Touch software is required ($39). These add-in products are available directly from Espresso’s website. No additional software is needed for Windows 10/Windows 11. Two speakers are built into the unit, which measures 14 x 10 x 0.2 inches. It weighs 2 pounds.
One style of portable monitor for laptop computers is designed to attach to the back of a computer’s existing display and then slide outwards when the extra display is needed. This is as opposed to having its own stand so it can be positioned to the side of a computer (or anywhere the cable connecting the computer and monitor can reach).
The SideTrak Swivel Portable Monitor is an example of a 12.5-inch Full HD IPS monitor that attaches to your laptop computer’s existing screen and then slides outwards. It can then rotate 360-degress. Using SideTrack Swivel’s collapsible mounting frame also allows the monitor to stand on its own using a built-in kickstand.
This version of the SideTrak Swivel Portable Monitor is compatible with Windows or MacBook laptop computers that have a built-in display that’s between 13 inches to 17 inches. It is not, however, compatible with Microsoft Surface devices that have their own kickstand, since it’s designed to be mounted on the back of your computer’s existing screen using magnets.
From this monitor (which is powered by the computer it’s attached to), you’ll experience 1920 x 1080 resolution with a refresh rate of up to 50Hz and a 16:9 aspect ratio. The unit comes with the mounting plates needed to attach it safely and securely to your computer.
A USB-C cable with USB-A adapter is included to connect the monitor to your computer, although a supplied Mini-HDMI to HDMI cable can also be used. This monitor measures 12.2 x 7.4 x 0.66 inches and it weighs 1.3 pounds. It does not, however, utilize a touchscreen, nor does it have built-in speakers or a built-in rechargeable battery.
When choosing a portable monitor, consider what you’ll be using it for and your typical available workspace. This will help determine your resolution and screen size requirements. Also consider the overall size and weight of the monitor unit, especially if you’ll be carrying it along with your computer, or want to use the extra monitor while sitting on an airplane (or any limited workspace), for example.
Depending on how you’ll be using the monitor, you’ll likely find a larger size, flicker-free display, with its own power source (which typically means added brightness) is best if you’ll be presenting to others or playing games.
One thing to keep in mind is that many portable monitors that rely on your laptop’s power (or their own built-in battery) won’t have the brightness capability you may be accustomed to from your computer’s built-in display. While the resolution and refresh rate of the portable monitor may be as good (or even better) than what your laptop computer’s primary screen offers, it may appear dimmer, especially when you’re working in a well-lit environment.
As a secondary monitor for multitasking (running two or more applications at once), you may find a smaller size display will accommodate your work habits and need for extra portability, while if your work requires photo editing, writing, drawing, or annotating, choosing a second monitor with a touchscreen display will be likely be beneficial.
Another feature to be on the lookout for is called IPS (In-Plane Switching). This is technology used by LCD monitors to enhance the vividness, richness and authenticity of colors, and also expand the angles from which the display can clearly be viewed. Especially if you’ll be playing games, viewing graphic or video-based content, or working with high-resolution digital images, this is a feature you’ll want your portable monitor to have.
Also, while some portable monitors have two tiny, low-powered speakers built-in, chances are the speakers built into your computer offer higher-quality audio. For the best audio experience, however, consider using headphones or ear buds, as opposed to relying on the audio that some of these portable monitors can generate.
In general, you’ll pay more for a larger screen size and higher refresh rate. You’ll also likely pay a slight premium for a well-known brand name, like ViewSonic, ASUS, Lenovo or Dell.
Mac users will probably need to utilize additional software to take advantage of the touchscreen capabilities that some of these external displays offer. In many cases this is free software, although some monitor companies charge extra for it.
Your Apple iPad can be used as a second screen for your MacBook or iMac thanks to the SideCar … [+]
However, if you’re a MacBook (or iMac) user, keep in mind that the Sidecar feature built into the latest MacOS and iPadOS 15 operating systems allow you to use your Apple iPad tablet as a second monitor for your computer—leither with or without a cable.
I am an accomplished author, journalist, and photographer who specialized in consumer technologies. Please visit my website at www.JasonRich.com, and check out my eBook,
I am an accomplished author, journalist, and photographer who specialized in consumer technologies. Please visit my website at www.JasonRich.com, and check out my eBook, “iPhone 12 Pro Max Digital Photography” (www.iPhoneBookShop.com). An all-new edition for the iPhone 13 Pro Max is coming soon.