When I google portable monitors, there're pages from PCMAG, RTINGS, NYMAG, TECHRADAR, which give the best portable monitor ranking list. However, best monitor is not best for everyone. You maybe still confused on how to choose a portable monitor to meet your needs.
That's why I write this article to make it clear what the portable monitor is and how to choose the portable monitor. No matter what kind of portable monitor you want, you can find an answer here.
What is a portable monitor?
Portable monitors are small, thin and lightweight monitors. The portable monitor helps you stay on the move. It expands your screen real estate so you can deal with multiple app interface at the same time. It also works as a gaming monitor which allows you enjoy video games at any corner.
Almost all portable monitors have HDMI(or mini HDMI) and full-featured USB Type-C port. Most portable monitors are made of IPS panel, few of them are QLED, OLED and IGZO. The size of the portable monitors is usually between 13.3-inch and 17.3-inch. 15.6inch is the most popular model.
What are portable monitor good for?
The desktop monitor are big, heavy and hard to be moved around. They have to be plugged into an outlet. Compared to the desktop monitors, here're the advantages of portable monitors.
- Save desktop space, easy storage
If the space of your desktop and room is compact, a portable monitor would be a good choic, when you need to use it, even a very small desktop can put it. When you don't need to use it, you can just put the monitor in the drawer or any corner. Especially for students, the small space of the dormitory is particularly suitable for the use of portable monitors.
- Can be put into backpack, friendly for on-the-go working
For people who need to travel a lot, portable monitors can easily fit inside a suitcase, backpack or computer bag. You can easily take it on trains, planes, cafes and hotels. The screen is fragile, so be careful not to let heavy objects press on top of the screen when storing it. Adding an external monitor to the laptop are great for one-on-one presentations.
- Low power consumption, no socket required
Ordinary 1080P portable display, power consumption of only 10-15W, many laptops, rechargeable batteries can power the display. When you need to use the monitor in places like outdoor, camping which has no charging socket, portable monitor is the best choice. There are also portable monitors with built-in battery, so that the monitor can be used without external power supply.
What is a portable monitor used for?
Portable monitors are an easy way to extend a laptop screen or increase the display size for a mobile device. People also use it for console or PC gaming, just plug and play. Here's the list of the devices compatibe with portable monitors.
- Computer display for PC host, Mini PC, Mac Mini, Single-board Computers like Raspberry Pi 4
- Gaming monitor for Consoles, Playstation 4, PS4 Pro, PS5, Xbox one, Xbox 360, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch OLED
- External monitor, Second Screen for Laptops with Windows, iMac and MacBook with MacOS, iPad Pro 2022 externder, and Samsung Smartphone with Android
- Monitor for steaming and camera, ChromeCast, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku Streaming Stick, DSLR, DVR, NVR
What do I need to know before choosing a portable monitor?
With nearly one thousands models of portable monitors sold on Amazon from around 260 sellers, it can hard to find one which suit your needs. Here're things you need to know before choosing a portable monitor.
Your budget and using scenario
If the using scenario are mostly related to text editing, such as programming, copywriting, Words, Excel, the budget for a portable monitor is about $100-150.
If the using scenario are mostly related to gaming, streaming, image and video editing, the budget for a portable monitor is about $200-300.
As for FPS and racing gaming, 120hz, 144hz, 240hz refresh rate is required. The budget for this portable monitor is about $300-400.
If the portable monitors comes from big brands like Asus, HP, Lenovo, the price can be much more pricy.
Basic Spcification of the portable monitor
When you get clear of using scenario, now you need to know the specification of the portable monitor. Here's the basic informtion you need to know.
- Screen Size, Screen Resolution, Aspect Ratio
As I mentioned at the beginning, 15.6inch portable monitor is most popular. Accroding to the Amazon sales report, the share of 15.6inch monitor is 65%, 15.8inch 7%, 14inch 6%, 13.3inch 6%, 17.3 2%.
When it comes to the resolution, the share of 1080P is 72%, 4K 3%, 2K 1%.
Most monitors come with the aspect ratio 16:9, few of them are 16:10. Aspect Ratio 16:10 is more friendly for office user. If you're looking for a portable monitor dealing with simple office work, the 15.6inch 1080P 16:9 at around $150 will be good. But If you want one for designing and gaming, there're more specification you need to consider.
- Color Space, Color Depth, Color Accurancy, Brightness
Graphic designer, video editor, streaming viewer and gaming player want better images on the screen. Here're the lowest requirements for that kind of high end portable monitor, color space sRGB 100%, color depth 8Bit, color accurancy Delta E <3, brightness 400nits. If the product page doen't includes these important information, probably it's cheap monitor with color space sRGB 72%, color depth 6bits, brightness 200-250nits.
- Refresh Rate, Response Time, Freesync, HDR
The FPS and racing gaming player wants monitors with refresh rate 120HZ or more.There're 15.6inch and 17.3inch portable gaming monitors in the market. You can choose the size and refresh rate which suits your needs. For most norml players, 120hz/144hz is enough.
Response times are usually measured from grey-to-grey transitions. Lower response time reduces image blurring and ghosting. The customer can't measure the response time and Freesync, some seller just gives a false number such as 1ms. If you don't want to spend time on researching, just ignore this data.
When we talked about HDR, a display must have a brightness of at least 400 nits. When a cheap monitor claims HDR feature, it's useless.
- Speaker, Built-in battery, Touchscreen
You can expect a decent speaker in the portable monitor.In most situation, it just works. If you want better sound, an earphone or stereo speaker will be great.
Actually, I don't recommend a portable monitor with built-in battery. It's much more expensive. The battery can only last 3-5 hours. You will have to charge it very often. In most situation, the laptop and mini PC and power the monitor, the battery is not necessary. And when you're using it as a console gaming monitor, there must be a socket. You can't a monitor seperately, so I can't see any reason to buy a portable monitor with built-in battery.
As for the touchscreen monitor, it's convenient to work with laptops, mini PC and Smasung Smartphones which have a thunderbolt 3 or thunderbolt 4 USB Type-C port, just one cable connection, pulg and play.
- Enclosure Material, mini DP Port, VESA Mount, Accessories
The color of most portable monitors is black, some of them are gray and white The enclosure of the monitors are most made by aluminum alloy. Some cheap portable monitors are made by plastic.
There're portable monitors comes with a mini DP port. If the graphics card of your computer has 2-4 DP interfaces, the portable monitors with mini DP would be a good choice.
If you want to fix the monitors to a mount, you can find portable monitors with 75mm VESA mount. The portable monitor can be put besides the desktop monitor or work alone on a lifting table.
Most portable monitors comes with accessories, like HDMI cable, USB-C cable, and power adaptor. There're other gadgets which may help you use the portable monitor better, like the HDMI adaptor, USB-C adaptor which can hide the cables at the back of the monitor, portable monitor stand which hold the monitor.