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The 3 Best Portable Monitors of 2023

Jun 08, 2024Jun 08, 2024

This guide has been updated to include an upgrade pick, the LG Gram +View.

Rolling up to a café with a laptop and a portable monitor lets the whole room know you’re a busy professional who needs to get work done. But aside from impressing the half-caff crowd, portable monitors are a useful way to add another screen to your laptop, especially when you’re on the go. We recommend the Asus ZenScreen MB16ACV, a quality 1080p monitor that can also work over USB-A if your laptop doesn’t have a USB-C port. And if you’re looking for a higher resolution option, the LG Gram +View has a fantastic 1440p display.

The Asus ZenScreen MB16ACV has a sharp 1080p display that makes a great second monitor for work.

If you want a simple, affordable portable monitor that’s easy to use, we recommend the Asus ZenScreen MB16ACV. It has a 15.6-inch display with a 1080p resolution, which looks equally good while typing up documents and watching videos. Its integrated stand means you can use it in landscape and portrait orientations, and it connects to your laptop via a USB-C cable. You can also download additional software that lets you use a full-size USB cable to transmit video to the portable monitor, so it can be used with older laptops or as a smaller secondary monitor for desktops.


The Asus ProArt PA148CTV has 10-point touch capability and highly adjustable picture settings, making it great for creative uses.

Not many portable monitors add features to your computer, but Windows users can add a touchscreen to their laptop with the Asus ProArt PA148CTV. This 14-inch, 1080p portable monitor also has a great menu for adjusting color performance and a well-placed tripod mount for use in studio setups. And the software integrations with Adobe Creative Cloud allow you to use touch controls while editing your photos and videos.

The LG Gram +View has a high-resolution 1440p display that's great for small text, and a magnetic cover that doubles as a stand.

May be out of stock

For a higher-resolution display and great colors out of the box, we recommend the LG Gram +View. Its 1440p display is better than our other picks for working with small text, which is helpful if you spend a lot of time looking at spreadsheets and documents. Aside from its image quality, we liked the monitor’s magnetic cover that doubled as a stand.

The Asus ZenScreen MB16ACV has a sharp 1080p display that makes a great second monitor for work.

The Asus ProArt PA148CTV has 10-point touch capability and highly adjustable picture settings, making it great for creative uses.

The LG Gram +View has a high-resolution 1440p display that's great for small text, and a magnetic cover that doubles as a stand.

May be out of stock

Dave Gershgorn has reviewed and covered technology since 2015 at publications such as Popular Science, Quartz, Medium, and now Wirecutter. He covers all computer displays for Wirecutter and is a certified display calibrator through the Imaging Science Foundation.

A portable monitor adds a second screen to your laptop if you frequently travel or don’t have a set place to work every day. Some portable monitors, like our top pick, can even be used as displays for a desktop computer or Steam Deck game console.

These portable monitors are a neat way to take a fully fledged work setup on the go, but they’re not the best option if you work at a desk. Standard monitors are typically about the same price, much larger, and a bit higher quality than their portable counterparts.

A great portable monitor has a sharp, bright screen and easily connects to a laptop with a USB-C cable. It should be a simple and reliable device that doesn’t need to be tinkered with often, and can be used in both landscape and portrait orientations. We used the following criteria while researching and testing dozens of different portable monitors, including top sellers on Amazon and those well-reviewed on other websites.

We tested nine portable monitors, including models from Asus, Dell, HP, Innocn, Lenovo, and LG. We used each monitor for at least a day of work in a café away from our regular office, which included typing up documents, working with spreadsheets, watching videos, and chatting on Slack. To ensure that we picked the sharpest display with the best color, we ran side-by-side tests in which the same image was shown on two portable monitors for visual comparison.

We also checked that each manufacturer lived up to its claims by using the Calman Ultimate software and Calibrite ColorChecker Display Plus to verify the maximum brightness and contrast of each display, and to validate our visual assessment of each monitor.

The Asus ZenScreen MB16ACV has a sharp 1080p display that makes a great second monitor for work.

The Asus ZenScreen MB16ACV is a basic, high-quality 15.6-inch portable monitor that’s easy to use in landscape or portrait orientations, and it isn’t too expensive. It has one USB-C port to connect your laptop (or other device) and an understated black design.

The ZenScreen is easy on the eyes. During our testing, the ZenScreen was sharper and text was more consistently legible compared with other 1080p displays. We found the screen easy to read on for a few hours of work, without feeling like our eyes were straining. Like all of the portable monitors we tested, we did have to adjust the “scaling” settings on Windows and MacOS to make text, buttons, and other parts of the operating system a comfortable size. But once we set the scaling, we didn’t have to adjust it again.

We found the ZenScreen’s color a bit green out of the box, but just a few seconds spent tweaking the settings easily fixed that issue. We prefer the Game Mode picture setting with the Skin Tone set on “Reddish.” This is one of the reasons we really like the ZenScreen MB16ACV: It has a comprehensive menu that allows for granular adjustments of how the display shows color.

It’s bright enough to get work done in an office or a coffee shop. The ZenScreen MB16ACV reaches 250 nits of brightness. If you have a MacBook or higher-end Windows laptop it will likely be a bit dimmer than your laptop screen, depending on your brightness settings. It’s bright enough to do work and casually watch TV, though. The monitor also has good contrast—we measured a contrast ratio of 1010:1, just above our threshold of 1000:1, which means the picture shouldn’t look washed out.

One of the standout features of the ZenScreen is its stand. The stand flips out from the ZenScreen’s bottom edge and has small rubberized feet to keep the monitor stable. It’s sturdy, and the hinge stays in place. The stand also has a small cutout on its right side, so that the monitor can be placed in a portrait orientation. In this setup, the display leans back slightly, enough for it to be stable without messing with image quality or making the monitor wobbly. The monitor also has a ¼-inch screw hole on its back, which is the standard screw size for tripods and photo gear, making it easy to mount as part of a mobile photo setup.

The ZenScreen’s one USB-C port is all you really need. If your Windows laptop or computer doesn’t have a USB-C port, you can also hook up the monitor over a normal USB-A port. You just need to download a DisplayLink driver from Asus’s website, and then the display will automatically connect when plugged in. We tested this by running the ZenScreen as a secondary monitor for a Windows desktop, and after installing the driver it worked just as seamlessly as with a laptop.

We also like that the ZenScreen comes with a soft case to protect the display while you’re traveling.

Many other portable monitors have two USB-C ports. The Asus ZenScreen MB16ACV only has one USB-C port to connect it to a laptop or computer. Having two USB-C ports, one to connect to the computer and another for power to charge that laptop, is useful. But it isn’t totally necessary if your laptop has two USB-C ports of its own, or another way to charge. For most people, one USB-C port is fine, but it’s worth noting.

Some features on the ZenScreen, like auto-rotate and USB-A compatibility, require you to download extra software. This is something to be aware of, but we don’t think it’s a huge deal.

The LG Gram +View has a high-resolution 1440p display that's great for small text, and a magnetic cover that doubles as a stand.

May be out of stock

The LG Gram +View has a higher-resolution display than our top pick and looks great out of the box without the need to tinker with any settings. It also has a magnetic foldable cover that acts as a stand, making the +View a slim portable monitor that should slip into most backpacks and bags.

The Gram +View’s high-resolution display makes text sharper and images clearer. The monitor has a 2560×1600 resolution display, usually known as 1440p or 2K resolution. This means text and images are sharper than a 1080p display. Other monitors offer higher or similar resolutions for hundreds of dollars more, but the LG Gram +View is the cheapest high-resolution portable monitor we could find from a company we trust. It costs $350, so you’ll pay about $150 more than our main pick for better resolution and picture quality.

The +View displays natural-looking colors. It also doesn’t need the settings adjustments that we recommend on lower-cost monitors. This is a good thing, because the +View’s display settings can only be controlled by a Windows app. The app functions, but it’s just a bit slow. The display is also bright enough to easily use in a sunny café or office, with 350 nits of brightness. That’s about a third brighter than our top pick, the Asus ZenScreen.

The magnetic stand is also the monitor’s cover. It magnetically attaches to different points on the display, but these points aren’t marked, so it takes a bit of trial and error at first to line up the magnets. Once you have this down it becomes pretty easy to flip back the cover into being the stand. The stand is slightly less stable than some of our other picks, but perfectly usable.

The +View has two USB-C ports, one more than our top pick. It also supports passthrough charging, so you can charge your laptop with its own cable, or plug the power into the portable monitor and charge through it.

The Asus ProArt PA148CTV is built for creative professionals who need an additional monitor on set or as a part of a mobile editing setup. It’s a 14-inch, 1080p display with touch support and integrations with Adobe products, so you can use the monitor as a control panel for software like Photoshop and Premiere Pro.

It also has Asus’s fantastic on-screen menu. The menu offers a ton of options for tweaking the colors and image quality.

Touch input worked seamlessly when connected to a Windows laptop. Unfortunately, this monitor will not add touch functionality to macOS. Instead, we recommend our other pick to Mac users, as the extra price isn’t worthwhile if you can’t use the touch control.

An iPad can be a good second screen for someone who has a Mac, using the Sidecar feature (as long as the Mac was introduced in 2016 or later, and the iPad is 6th-gen or later). Sidecar lets you connect your iPad to your Mac as a second display, with just one or two easy clicks.

However, we’d recommend against getting an iPad if you only want to use it as a portable monitor. It does have a higher resolution than our picks, but it is physically much smaller. You’ll have less screen space to work with, and it generally feels cramped. A larger iPad Pro would be a better second-screen experience, but then you’re talking about spending $1,000 or more for a second display. But if you already own an iPad, or want to mostly do iPad things and occasionally use it as a second screen, then it’s entirely doable.

Our top pick is a bit cheaper than buying an iPad new, so this advice is best if you already have one, or if you’re choosing between a portable monitor and an iPad.

However, we’re not able to recommend a tablet as a second screen for Windows laptops. Apple’s devices work seamlessly together in a way that Windows devices don’t. Senior staff writer Joel Santo Domingo has used software like Duet Display for years and stands by it as a solution, but we haven’t yet tested these kinds of software solutions thoroughly. We’ll update this guide when we do.

While testing both portable and desk-based monitors, we found that some lower-resolution displays looked significantly worse when used with Macs rather than Windows laptops and PCs. After some research and testing, we think this has to do with the fact that all Mac displays use Apple’s Retina technology.

Mac computers tailor the image they send to an Apple-certified monitor with a process called display scaling. This process is meant to create a sharp, properly sized image, no matter the size of the display. However, newer Macs running Apple's M1 and M2 chips seem to have difficulty scaling for lower-resolution displays, providing us with results that looked worse than expected. This was most noticeable when using a portable monitor with a Mac running the older macOS Monterey, and though that blurriness improved on Macs running on the latest macOS Ventura, the operating system’s settings made it difficult to get a sharp, properly-scaled image. If you’ve plugged a monitor into your Mac and it looks blurry, we’ve noticed this issue too. We reached out to Apple about this issue, but the company didn’t offer a response.

We were able to find and test one workaround for this problem—macOS software called BetterDisplay. It essentially creates a fake monitor, called a dummy, that your Mac thinks is a shiny, expensive high-resolution display. The Mac sends its scaled-up version of the picture to your dummy, which passes it to your portable monitor where the image looks far sharper than before. The setup process takes a minute or two, but then it configures automatically every time you plug in the display. You’ll need to buy BetterDisplay for $15 for continued use, but if you want to try it out first the developer offers a two-week demo with all features enabled.

If you want a smaller display to match a 14-inch laptop, the HP E14 G4 is a solid option. It has a 14-inch, 1080p display with a sturdy stand and basic on-screen menu for changing brightness, contrast, and color. It is smaller and more expensive, and has about the same image quality as our top pick, but if our top pick is out of stock, this is the model we’d recommend. However, it’s currently out of stock, so we can’t recommend it at the moment.

The Dell C1422H is extremely similar to HP’s E14 G4 in size and image quality, but it has fewer image settings and costs a bit more. We think HP’s version offers a bit more value for the price.

We tested two monitors from Innocn, the 13A1F and the 15K1F. The OLED displays in both models give great contrast and deliver appealing colors, but we found both of these monitors to be blurrier than the competition. When tested side-by-side against the other models using LCDs, it was unfortunately apparent that we couldn’t recommend the Innocn displays for most people.

Lenovo sent us its ThinkVision M14d, a 14-inch display with an impressive 2240×1400 resolution. It’s a nice monitor, but the $475 price tag is simply too expensive.

We also tested the Asus ZenScreen Go MB16AWP, a higher-end display with wireless connectivity and its own internal battery. This model has some really great promise, with the ability to connect it to your phone to use as a larger screen for watching TV or movies. However, when testing the wireless features we found that many popular streaming services limit how their videos are viewed, which includes streaming video locally to another wireless device nearby. When we were able to successfully stream video using Plex, the video was chopping and unwatchable. The wireless communication worked great for adding a second wireless display to Windows computers, though, so if you have those specific needs, this could be a good solution. Overall, an extra $250 for the battery and wireless features of the Asus MB16AWP didn’t seem worthwhile given the restrictions.

This article was edited by Caitlin McGarry and Arthur Gies.

Dave Gershgorn

Dave Gershgorn is a senior staff writer at Wirecutter. He’s been covering consumer and enterprise technology since 2015, and he just can’t stop buying computers. If this weren’t his job, it would likely be a problem.

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Resolution:Color:Brightness:Contrast:Price:Stand:Size:Ports:Extra features:The ZenScreen is easy on the eyes. It’s bright enough to get work done in an office or a coffee shop. One of the standout features of the ZenScreen is its stand.The ZenScreen’s one USB-C port is all you really need. Many other portable monitors have two USB-C ports.The Gram +View’s high-resolution display makes text sharper and images clearer.The +View displays natural-looking colors.The magnetic stand is also the monitor’s cover.The +View has two USB-C ports, one more than our top pick.It also has Asus’s fantastic on-screen menu.Touch input worked seamlessly when connected to a Windows laptop.