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Best Portable Monitor (2021): Comparing Compact Secondary Displays

For the best portable monitor, there are a few important factors to consider. First off, it has to be compact enough not only for portability’s sake but also for limited desk space. Next, it should have plenty of screen real estate—with sharpness to match—while maintaining narrow bezels to stay true to its minimal form factor. Lastly, it must have wide compatibility to work across devices, be it a MacBook Pro or a Surface Pro.

Some do a bang-up job on those fronts. Take the ASUS ZenScreen Touch, for instance. It’s sleek yet large, and it has a wide viewing angle to boot. Then there’s the SideTrak Slide Portable Monitor that attaches to laptops, the Vissles-M Portable Touchscreen Monitor that packs a lot of ports, and the Lenovo ThinkVision M14 that boasts impressive image quality and color. As an outlier, there’s also the iPad that can double as a second screen for the Mac, which is arguably the best portable monitor for MacBook owners.

Best Portable Monitor Comparison Chart

ModelImageKey FeaturesPrice
ASUS ZenScreen TouchASUS ZenScreen 15.6' 1080P Portable Touch Monitor (MB16AMT) - Full HD, IPS, 10-point Touch, Built-in...Excellent picture quality, built-in battery, sleekCheck Price
SideTrak Slide Portable MonitorSideTrak Slide Portable Monitor for Laptop 12.5' FHD 1080P IPS Attachable Laptop Screen | Efficient...Can be attached on the back of laptopsCheck Price
iPad2020 Apple iPad (10.2-inch, Wi-Fi, 32GB) - Space Gray (8th Generation)Tablet that can be used as a portable monitorCheck Price
Vissles-M Portable Touchscreen MonitorMatte display, plenty of ports
Lenovo ThinkVision M14Lenovo ThinkVision M14 14' Full HD 1920x1080 IPS Monitor - 300 Nit 6ms 2xUSB Type-C Ports Widescreen...Excellent image quality and color reproductionCheck Price

Best Portable Monitor 2021 — ASUS ZenScreen Touch (MB16AMT)

The ASUS ZenScreen Touch just ticks all the right boxes.

Best Portable Monitor 2021 ASUS ZenScreen Touch
A look at the different viewing options of the ASUS ZenScreen Touch.

The best way to describe the ASUS ZenScreen Touch is it’s a remarkable all-rounder. For starters, it has a 15.6-inch full HD touchscreen with a 60 Hz refresh rate, as well as a blue light filter. Moreover, it has built-in speakers and a 7,800 mAh integrated battery so it won’t drain laptops, smartphones, or other mobile devices it’s connected to. 

ASUS also throws in a smart cover that makes it easy to prop it up in portrait or landscape view. Speaking of, it includes a stylus too, which can be inserted in the pen hole and used as a kickstand. 

It’s a little on the expensive end of the spectrum, but considering its features and performance, it’s worth the cost. Not to mention that its design blends nicely with top-of-the-line ASUS laptops, particularly those in the ZenBook series.

Pros

  • Built-in battery
  • Excellent image quality
  • Slim

Cons

  • Expensive

Best Portable Monitor for Laptop — SideTrak Slide Portable Monitor

The SideTrack Slide Portable Monitor can slide into view and slide out of sight.

Best Portable Monitor for Laptop SideTrak Slide Portable Monitor
Here’s the SideTrak Slide Portable Monitor in action.

Redefining portability, the SideTrak Slide Portable Monitor is a secondary display that attaches to the back of laptops. As its name suggests, it can be slid in and out of its case, allowing users to tuck it away when not in use.

Thing is, it doesn’t have the best image quality. While it has a 12.5-inch full HD screen, it could use a little tweak in brightness and contrast. On top of that, it has pretty chunky bezels. But it makes up for what it lacks with its nifty design. 

Pros

  • Attaches to laptop
  • Convenient

Cons

  • Dim screen
  • Poor color range

Best Portable Monitor for MacBook Pro — iPad

The iPad can turn into a secondary display for the MacBook Pro via Sidecar.

Best Portable Monitor for MacBook Pro iPad
Sidecar lets Mac users extend or mirror their display to the iPad.

Technically, the iPad isn’t a portable monitor, but that doesn’t hold the tablet back from becoming one. Thanks to Sidecar, the slate can easily mirror or extend the Mac’s display at a tap of a button. The best part is, there are no wires involved since connection is established using AirPlay.

However, the feature only works on the 6th-generation iPad or later, 5th-generation iPad mini or later, 3rd-generation iPad Air or later, or the iPad Pro. On that note, the standard iPad will be more than enough for this purpose, and it’s more or less in the same price range as the portable monitors in this list.

The downside to using an iPad as a second screen with Sidecar is it only works with Macs. Sure, it can connect to Windows PCs too, but the process isn’t exactly seamless.

Pros

  • Portable monitor and tablet in one
  • No wires

Cons

  • Limited compatibility as a portable monitor

Best Portable Monitor for Work — Vissles-M Portable Touchscreen Monitor

The Vissles-M stands out from the pack because of its ports and anti-glare display.

Best Portable Monitor for Work Vissles-M Portable Touchscreen Monitor
Here are the ports and buttons on the Vissles-M Portable Touchscreen Monitor.

In terms of functionality, the Vissles-M Portable Touchscreen Monitor has a lot to offer. For one thing, it has plenty of ports, including two USB-C ports and a mini HDMI, as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack. It also comes with a cover that has a kickstand, which attaches magnetically so it won’t wear out. Performance-wise, it’s up to par with the average portable monitor: 1080p on a large 15.6-inch anti-glare (read: matte) screen.

Some might not find its fairly plain design appealing, but if nothing else, there are only minimal bezels and no logos, giving it a clean look that suits work settings.

Pros

  • Lots of ports
  • Includes cover with kickstand

Cons

  • Design too simple (but that’s subjective)

Best Portable Monitor for Surface Pro — Lenovo ThinkVision M14

The Lenovo ThinkVision M14 pairs with the Surface Pro nicely because of its portability and picture quality.

Best Portable Monitor for Surface Pro Lenovo ThinkVision M14
The Lenovo ThinkVision M14 has a stand with a -5 to 90-degree tilt angle.

Whether or not a 14-inch display is an advantage or not depends on the user, but when it comes to portability, it has the edge. That’s where the Lenovo ThinkVision M14 comes in, making it the perfect on-the-go partner of the Microsoft Surface Pro.

That’s not all it’s got going for it, though. It has a 1080p resolution and excellent color reproduction, and since it has a smaller screen, its image quality is sharper than its 15.6-inch counterparts. It doesn’t come with a case or anything like that, but it has a stand that gives it a tilt angle that ranges from -5 to 90 degrees.

Pros

  • Image quality
  • Relatively more portable
  • Built-in stand

Cons

  • Screen may be too small for some

Verdict

While the ASUS ZenScreen Touch may be the best portable monitor in most cases, there are other options that can suit users’ different needs better.

Considering the features and specs of the ASUS ZenScreen Touch, it isn’t a surprise it’s among the best portable monitors. After all, it gets things right across the board, including a clear picture quality and stylish design. It even has a battery under the hood and speakers.

However, that doesn’t automatically mean it’s the best for every user or situation. For example, the SideTrak Slide Portable Monitor is handy since it can be attached to laptops. Meanwhile, the Vissles-M Portable Touchscreen Monitor is perfect for work with its no-nonsense and functional design, and the Lenovo ThinkVision M14 is the easiest to carry around because of its compact form factor. Last but not least, the iPad is flexible in the sense that it’s a full-fledged tablet that Mac users can also use as a second screen.

FAQs

📌 Is it worth getting a portable monitor?

It depends on what your needs are, but in general, yes, they’re worth the buy. That’s because they add some extra screen space or provide a bigger view for your mobile device.

📌 Is the ASUS ZenScreen Touch worth it?

Yes, the ASUS ZenScreen Touch doesn’t just have excellent performance but also plenty of features. It has an integrated battery to keep it from draining laptops and mobile devices and a foldable smart case that offers multiple viewing angles.

📌 Is the Lenovo ThinkVision M14 worth it?

Yes, the Lenovo ThinkVision M14’s color reproduction is hard to beat, and it has a stand that can be tilted from -5 to 90 degrees.

📌 What’s the best portable monitor for the MacBook Pro?

While it’s not technically a portable monitor, the iPad is one of the best secondary displays for the MacBook Pro. This is made possible because of Sidecar, and the setup doesn’t require wires since the devices connect to each other using AirPlay.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Vincent Lanaria

Senior Editor, researcher and writer passionate about running, cooking, and how technology mixes with the two.