8 Best Portable Laptop Monitors for Travel & Work

by | Apr 9, 2021 | Travel Buyer Guides | 0 comments

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Are you looking for a travel friendly portable screen for your laptop? These are the Best & Top Rated Portable Laptop Monitors for travelers who need that extra display.

Article Contents:

🖥️ Introduction to Portable Laptop Monitors

For us freelancers, remote workers, and digital nomads, our laptops are our constant companions. Whenever and wherever I travel you’ll never find me without my laptop. But sometimes one measly laptop screen just won’t cut it and I need a bigger display to feel truly productive. Portable laptop monitors are perfect for this situation, and I’d wholeheartedly recommend that anyone working predominantly on a laptop invest in one.

There are lots of options available online and it can be tricky to narrow them down to find the perfect option for you. I’ve done lots of research on the topic and in this article, I’m going to share the best choices for a variety of different uses.

🔎 How to buy a portable laptop monitor for travel and work

When you’re narrowing down your options for a new portable computer monitor there are a few key points that you need to consider. Here’s what I look out for:

  • Screen size – the screens on my list range from 7” to 15.6” so there’s plenty of choices available. Large screens obviously give you more room to work with but think carefully about whether you’ll want to carry a bigger monitor around with you.
  • Display – some users might require 4K resolution, but if you’re just working on Google Docs you can afford to drop a few pixels. Creatives should also think about color reproduction capabilities.
  • Connectivity – consider the device you want to use the monitor with to ensure that you have the required ports. Some monitors require their own power source, so keep an eye out for this is you prefer to work from your laptop’s battery.
  • Weight – if you’re planning to travel with your portable monitor you need it to be as light as possible. Remember to consider extras like power supplies and stands when calculating whether you can fit it in your carry on.
  • Price – prices vary widely across the range of monitors I’m recommending, so there’s an option for every budget. As a rule, though, you get what you pay for.

[NEW] Editor's Choice: Desklab Ultralight Portable 4K Touchscreen Monitor

NOTE FROM PAUL: I'm updating this post with a new “Editor's Choice” because since originally publishing this buyer guide, I've fallen in love with my Desklab Ultralight 4k monitor.

Desklab 4k Monitor

Ariel Chan from Desklab contacted me after seeing our original list and was so confident that I'd love their Ultralight 4k that he offered to send me one for free to try out.

I told Ariel the same thing I tell everyone who offers me free stuff, “You're welcome to send me your monitor to try out, but I don't guarantee that I'll write a review or feature your products on Travel is Life.”

I have to give that disclaimer because companies offer to send me their products a lot in exchange for positive reviews, but I don't sell reviews or placement in my Buyers Guides. Many companies have even tried to pay me to be my #1 picks, but I always decline because my editorial credibility is more important than their sponsorship. I either feature products I like, or I don't write about them at all.

Anyway, all that being said, they lucked out, because it turns out Ariel was right and I absolutely love their monitor. So I'm happy to add them to our list as “Editor's Choice” because the Desklab Ultralight 4k has now become the monitor I'm personally using and traveling with. I've actually got it in front of me right now while typing this update. LOL.

Desklab Ultralight 4k Portable Monitor

Desklab launched as a Kickstarter project in Oct 2019 and was fully funded in 5 minutes! After delivering on their pre-sales a year later, they opened up for business to the public.

The Desklab 4k portable monitor offers 4k resolution (in case you couldn't tell from the name), a touchscreen, built-in stereo speakers, device charging capabilities, a magnetic kickstand, and it only weighs 1lb despite its 15.6″ screen size — making it one of the lightest/thinnest portable monitors ever made with a 15.6″ screen. It also feels very sturdy in comparison to other portable monitors I've used, which I appreciate next to my Lenovo Yoga which is also super sturdy. I hate cheaply made devices because they don't hold up in my travel bag, but so far after a few weeks of use, my Desklab has handled the hustle and bustle just fine.

Connection-wise, it accepts USB C and HDMI input and is compatible out-of-the-box with PC, Macs, gaming consoles, as well as Android and Apple phones and tablets. Meaning, no additional drivers need to be installed to operate with those devices.

I haven't used it with my phone or as a touchscreen device much (other than to try it out), but I've been loving it as a second monitor for my laptop. The resolution is crisp and the screen is super bright. (I hate low illuminated screens. I know I'm probably killing my eyes, but I hate struggling to see a screen.)

Overall, I'm super glad I said yes to this one and it's been serving me well.

💬 How are the reviews of the Desklab Ultralight 4k?

There are over 366 reviews for the Desklab Ultralight 4k and 351 of those reviews are 5 star. Users boast about the size, weight, and picture quality. Several coders mentioned loving its vertical orientation capability. Digging into the negative reviews, most were about shipping times. One person left a negative review because they paid $700 for the monitor during the Kickstarter, but it's now available for sale to the public for $399 — but hey, that's part of being an early adopter!

Personally I love mine and I don't have any complaints about it after using it for several weeks. However to be frank, at almost twice the price of some of the other portable monitor on this list, it better be good!

And now, back to Sophie's picks…

#1) Best USB Powered Portable Laptop Monitor: ASUS MB169B+ 15.6”

The first portable laptop monitor on my list is the ASUS MB169B+ 15.6”. ASUS claims that this hugely popular monitor is the slimmest and lightest USB powered monitor, which makes it a great choice if you like to keep your luggage to a minimum like me.

ASUS MB169B+ 15.6" Full HD 1920x1080 IPS USB Portable Monitor
  • 15.6 inch Full HD portable USB powered monitor with a single USB 3.0 cable for power and data...
  • World’s slimmest and lightest USB monitor with a sleek and metallic finishIt needs just 1 USB...
  • Auto rotating display bundled with the ASUS Smart Case a 2 way adjustable stand and protective...

This portable monitor only requires a single USB 3.0 connection for power and data transmission which is ideal if you’re using your ports for other external devices. Don’t worry if your laptop only has USB 2.0 connectivity, the MB169B+ is backward compatible but you’ll lose a little image quality.

Speaking of which, the screen is Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) which will be crisp enough for general use. However, if you work in design or digital media you might find yourself craving a few extra pixels. The 15.6” display gives you plenty of screen real estate though, which I like. The included two-way adjustable stand and protective case complete this great portable monitor package.

💬 How are the reviews of the ASUS MB169B+ 15.6”?

There are over 1,700 reviews for the ASUS MB169B+ and almost half of them give five-star ratings. Users like the lightweight build and easy setup, and Mac users were pleased to find that the monitor is Apple-compatible once the correct driver has been downloaded.

The downsides of this portable laptop monitor are that the connection of the USB cable can come loose and that the stand feels a little flimsy.

#2) Best Cheap Portable Laptop Monitor: AOC E1659FWU 15.6”

If you’re looking for the best budget portable laptop monitor, I would recommend AOC’s E1659FWU 15.6” monitor. The HD version has a decent resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels and is less than $100. Or, if need a little more clarity, the Full HD version is only around $30 more.

AOC e1659Fwu 15.6-Inch Ultra Slim 1366x768 Res 200 cd/m2 Brightness USB 3.0-Powered Portable LED Monitor w/ Case Black
  • AOC 16-inch class USB 3.0 portable monitor with 15.6" viewable LED-backlit screen and HD 1366x768...
  • Power and signal delivery via a single USB 3.0 cable for convenience
  • Plug-and-Play in Windows & Mac, excellent for desktops, laptops

The size of the screen measures up to the ASUS in the above review and has an excellent response time which prevents any annoying lag. This portable monitor also works with a single USB 3.0 connection, so you have the option of buying two and creating a multi-screen setup with your laptop.

At 2.65 lbs it’s heavier than ASUS’s monitor but still light enough to be suitable for travel. And, the included sleeve will help prevent scratches on the screen when in transit.

💬 How are the reviews of the AOC E1659FWU 15.6”?

This AOC portable monitor scores 3.3 stars on average, with over 2,000 reviews. Users like the plug and play setup and the simple yet effective stand design. They also report that its performance is seamless and that the entire user experience is enjoyable.

The main downside of this portable laptop monitor is the strong glare of the screen. According to users, it can be very tricky to get the right angle to avoid reflections, so take this into consideration if you’re not a particularly patient person.

#3) Best 4K Portable Laptop Monitor: UPERFECT 4K 15.6”

If Full HD just won’t do, the best UHD portable laptop monitor is UPERFECT’s 4K 15.6”. The 3200 x 1800 pixel display is perfect for anyone looking for an external monitor for tasks like graphic design and photo editing, and it’s also great for watching a 4K movie once work is finished. The IPS panel provides wide angle viewing so you can enjoy a great picture from any position. And, high dynamic range (HRD) technology delivers the kind of luminosity that’s rarely seen in portable monitors.

The monitor works via HDMI connectivity so you can use it with games consoles and cameras as well as computers. It also requires mains power, though, which some travelers might not like. Once you’re plugged in, there’s no tricky setup or drivers to download.

UPERFECT’s monitor weighs around the same as AOC’s offering, but take note that the external stand will add a bit more bulk.

💬 How are the reviews of the UPERFECT 4K 15.6”?

There are much fewer reviews for this model but over ¾ of them are five-star ratings. Photographers are happy with how easy it is to tether the monitor to a camera, and several users comment on how good the image quality is.

Anyone working in creative industries should note that several reviewers commented on the lack of color accuracy, even after configuration. If your work demands perfect color reproduction you might want to consider other options.

#4) Best Portable Laptop Monitor for MacBooks: AOC I1601FWUX 15.6”

There are a few options on my list that are suitable for Apple fans, but the AOC I1601FWUX 15.6” comes out on top for me. To connect to this monitor all you need to do is switch your Mac to DP Alt Mode and you’re good to go. With this in mind, it’s worth noting that it won’t work with a USB 2.0 or 3.0 adapter, so you’re going to need an actual USB-C port on your computer for it to be compatible.

AOC I1601FWUX 15.6" USB-C powered portable monitor, extremely slim, Full HD 1920x1080 IPS, SmartCover, AutoPivot (for devices w/ USB-C DP Alt Mode only),Black
  • .USB-C DP Alt Mode on host device is REQUIRED, there is NO HDMI input on this monitor.. Please check...
  • AOC USB-C portable monitor with 15.6" IPS screen and Full HD 1080P (1920x1080) resolution
  • Only a single USB-C cable is needed to deliver both power and video signal from your laptop to the...

At just 1.7 lbs this AOC monitor is up there with the most portable options on the market while retaining a nice, big 15.6” screen. The IPS display gives great viewing angles and the Full HD screen is beautifully crisp. Colors are sharp and vibrant, too, so this monitor is a good option if you’ll be using it to watch movies or give presentations. This impressive package is topped off by a smart cover that can be used as a screen holder in both portrait and landscape modes.

💬 How are the reviews of the AOC I1601FWUX 15.6”?

Positive reviews are plentiful with over 40% of more than 2,000 customers giving it five stars. These consumers love how light and portable the monitor is, and how easy it is to set up. Solid performance with no lag is another key feature that users like about this AOC monitor.

On the downside, some customers complained that the cover isn’t rigid enough to offer any decent level of protection to the screen, and others mention that color reproduction isn’t completely up to scratch. But overall, this is a solid choice for anyone using a Mac with USB-C ports.

#5) Best Mid-Size Portable Laptop Monitor: HP EliteDisplay S14 14”

If 15.6” is too big for your backpack, there are plenty of great mid-size screens on the market, too. My favorite is HP’s EliteDisplay S14 14”.

HP EliteDisplay S14 14" FullHD 1920 x 1080 Portable USB-C Display
  • Requires USB C Port to power/operate
  • Screen size: 14"
  • Screen mode: full HD

This monitor connects works in DP USB-C Alt mode so it will happily sit at the side of your MacBook Pro. If you don’t have Thunderbolt you should steer clear of this monitor though, as it won’t work with an adapter. There are plenty of customizable settings on board, including brightness, contrast, and response time. You can set it to HP’s Low Blue Light mode too, to take care of your eyes when you’re working late into the night.

If 14” is still too big, the 13.3” monitor from UPERFECT is another great option that’s compatible with non-Thunderbolt laptops.

💬 How are the reviews of the HP S14 14”?

There aren’t many reviews for this portable monitor yet, but they’re all four or five-star so far. Users like the clear picture and also how the screen protector doubles as a stand.

The lack of flexibility when it comes to screen position frustrates some users, and the tilt position doesn’t suit everyone. The other issue with the S14 is its weight: at 2.2 lbs it comes in above many of its competitors which is disappointing considering that it’s actually smaller in size.

#6) Best Compact Portable Laptop Monitor: Eviciv 7” Touchscreen

If you’re looking for a portable gaming monitor, the Eviciv 7” is my favorite small-screen option. The five-point touchscreen can be used with fingers or with the included stylus, which is a nice added extra when compared to other monitors on this list. The screen itself has a decent resolution of 1024 x 600 and the IPS panel is great for ensuring that multiple people can gather around the screen and enjoy a clear view.

EVICIV Touch Screen 7" for Raspberry Pi, 1024X600 IPS Display Portable Monitor Dual-Speaker USB HDMI Computer Monitor Compatible with Raspb Pi 5/4/3/Zero/Windows/Drive-Free
  • 【Unique Design for Raspb Pi】Raspb Pi hobbyist could not miss this fully-featured monitor! Easily...
  • 【5 Points Capacitive Touch】Thanks to the excellent sensitive capacitive technology and the...
  • 【Excellent IPS HD Panel】Equip with IPS screen with HD 1024*600 high resolution, supports up to...

This monitor needs its own power source, but where it lacks in portability it connectivity. You can use the Eviciv with laptops, desktops, tablets, and games consoles. It uses HDMI for data transmission and USB to support touch which will suit most users. This monitor is a bargain at less than $75 and while it may not be the highest quality product on the market it absolutely does everything that it promises to do.

💬 How are the reviews of the Eviciv 7”?

77% of the reviews for this portable monitor are five-star, and users have written about what great value the product is. They like that it comes with all the accessories you need to get started. They also like that it’s plug and play and that it’s extremely versatile.

With regards to the negatives, the audio is pretty low quality so you’ll probably need external speakers if you plan on using the screen to watch films. The color reproduction will also leave some users wanting, but if you're buying it primarily for working or gaming you shouldn’t have any problems.

#7) Best Portable Laptop Monitor for Photographers: GeChic 1101P 11.6”

Photographers can often benefit from having an external laptop monitor, and the GeChic 1101P 11.6” is the best option for this particular application. My favorite thing about this portable monitor is its connectivity and the fact that it comes with a tripod mount so it can be attached directly to a camera or tripod. As a videographer, I know exactly how handy that can be!

GeChic 1101P 11.6 inch IPS LCD 1920 x 1080 Portable Monitor with HDMI, VGA, MiniDisplay input, USB powered
  • FHD MINI PORTABLE MONITOR: 11.6” full HD 1920x1080 (16.7M colors)
  • LIGHTWEIGHT: monitor weights only 480g with 11mm in thickness
  • PHOTOGRAPHER’S BEST EQUIPMENT: supports 50 Hz and 60 Hz video input from PCs but 1080p (24Hz/...

Additional connectivity includes a headphone jack, micro HDMI, VGA, and USB. The flexible connectivity means that it can also be used with games consoles and smartphones, and when the monitor is being used on a desk the robust stand can be adjusted for the perfect viewing angle. The impressive screen quality will meet the high standards of professional photographers and the Full HD screen displays 16.7 million colors to deliver strong color reproduction.

💬 How are the reviews of the GeChic 1101P 11.6”?

Reviews are still only in double digits for this monitor, but 60% of them are the highest possible rating. Users love how quick it is to set up and how beautifully clear the display is. They also say that the sound quality is decent and that the entire unit is light enough to carry around easily.

However, they don’t like that the cables are super thick, and some wish that it came with an adapter so that it didn’t always require a USB connection (depending on how you plan on using this monitor, your device might not have many to spare). Overall, though, it’s a great purchase for photographers.

#8) Best Touchscreen Portable Laptop Monitor: GeChic 1303i 13.3”

Last up is another GeChic option: the 1303i 13.3”. This is my favorite option for a touchscreen monitor, but it’s actually one of the best all-rounders, too.

GeChic 1303i 13.3 inch 1080p Touchscreen Portable Monitor with HDMI, VGA, MiniDisplay Inputs
  • FHD PORTABLE TOUCH MONITOR: 13.3” full HD 1920x1080 (16.7M colors) wide viewing display
  • EASY WRITING & DESIGNING: Ten-finger multi-touch recognition allows you to type on screen as if on...
  • EXTRA LIGHT & SLIM: monitor weights only 900g with 10.5mm in thickness

The 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution covers 16.7 million colors, making it suitable for use in creative fields such as photography, videography, and graphic design. The screen has a ten-point touch for excellent control, and it’s easy to write and draw with a good level of accuracy.

Connectivity is pretty great with this portable monitor, and there’s a headphone jack, micro-HDMI, VGA, and mini-DisplayPort as well as two USB ports. All these options make it easy to hook the monitor up to smartphones and games consoles as well as laptops.

The 13.3” screen is a little on the small size for my personal taste, but if you’re looking for a compact, high-quality portable monitor, this GeChic option is definitely worth considering.

💬 How are the reviews of the GeChic 1303i 1.3”?

62% of users gave the GeChic a five-star rating. Their positive comments include loving only needing to use a single USB connection for power and data transfer.

The glossy screen annoyed some users as it’s very susceptible to fingerprints and there’s a little more glare than there ideally would be. The $300+ price tag also puts some customers off, but personally, I think it’s worth it.

🏆 Which is the best portable laptop monitor for travel & work?

When I was researching portable monitors to travel with, I was looking for plenty of screen real estate without too much weight. I also wanted USB 3.0 connectivity without needing an additional power supply, decent resolution, and zero lag. The best portable laptop monitor for my needs is the ASUS MB169B+ 15.6”.

If you’re on a smaller budget and don’t mind giving up a few pixels, AOC’s E1659FWU 15.6” monitor is a steal at under $100. It’s quite a bit heavier though, which is the only thing that puts me off as I travel as lightly as possible.

UPDATE: If you're willing to spend the money on a premium monitor, check out our newest edition to the list, the Desklab Ultralight 4k which is now our Editor's Choice.

Do you use a portable laptop monitor for travel and work? Which model do you personally recommend? Let me know in the comments.

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Sophie Bellamy

Sophie Bellamy

Sophie Bellamy is a traveler, freelance writer, and Editor In Chief at Table For One. You can discover more of her work at Table For One. Be sure to join our Friends List for new videos every Tuesday, and if you're a travel blogger, join our Travel is Life Tribe. Happy travels!