The Best Portable Monitors and Screen Extenders That Will Let You Work From Anywhere

The Best Portable Monitors and Screen Extenders That Will Let You Work From Anywhere
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When your office follows a hybrid work model, it can be frustrating to switch between two completely different set-ups so often. Along with more free time, one of the benefits of working from home means you can enjoy a change of scenery from time to time, such as ducking out to your local park or your favourite coffee shop. But if your workflow is directly effected by the lack of second screen while out and about, a portable monitor can make a big difference.

For some, working from home can feel suffocating and stagnant. Maybe you have limited space in your apartment, so you’re reduced to working on your dining room table everyday. Since it can be awfully annoying to set up and put away your equipment every day, a portable screen makes this particular chore so much more easier.

But it doesn’t stop there. Most portable screens are fitted with a USB-C port, which you can use to mirror your smartphone screen. That’s right, a bigger and better screen for streaming Netflix, YouTube or even video games. Some are also compatible with various gaming consoles like your Nintendo Switch, so you can take your console and monitor while travelling.

What is a portable monitor?

Image: espresso

A portable monitor is a lightweight and easy-to-carry alternative to the big, hulking static monitors you probably have on your desk right now. Portable monitors tend to be ultra-slim, lightweight with a screen size that’s no larger than 16 inches.

There are a variety of reasons why you can invest in a portable monitor. Whether you need a larger display to play mobile games on the go or you feel like working from your favourite coffee shop, a portable monitor is perfect for those who feel like they can’t get anything done without a second screen.

Most portable monitors are fitted with a USB-C HDMI cable and use your laptop or device for power, which means less cords and less tangles.

However, there is another type of portable monitor, which is known as a screen extender. Just as lightweight (but sometimes on the heavier side), a screen extender snaps onto your laptop screen and can lend an additional one or two screens to your set-up. The great thing is that you can tuck it or fold it against your laptop when you’re ready to move out, rather than unplug everything and pack it up like you would with a portable monitor.

What to look out for in a portable monitor

Image: Sidetrak

Picking a second screen isn’t as easy as you think. For most of us, the first thing we like to consider is screen size. But bigger doesn’t always mean better, especially when it comes to a portable monitor.

A portable screen can be any size from 11 to 18 inches. Which size you choose depends on how you intend to use it. If you’re hoping for a bigger screen that will let you scrutinise your latest graphic design project or stop you from squinting at your video game avatar, then go big. But if you plan on taking it on the bus, to the cafe or on your next flight, an 11 to 13-inch screen is just what you need. Plus, you’ll want to ensure it fits inside your usual backpack or laptop bag, unless you’re willing to spring for a new one.

Next, consider weight. It’s no use getting a big 18-inch monitor if it weights 3kg. Especially if you’re about to board a plane. That’s going to take up some precious carry-on weight that you probably need for your flight. Most portable monitors don’t weigh 2kg, but when bundled with your laptop, it all adds up and may just surprise you.

You’ll also want to ask yourself if you need a touchscreen, since it’s more of a bonus than a common feature. Having a touchscreen will bump up the price by a solid amount, so if you don’t need one, don’t bother. Digital artists, you’ll want one for sure, but make sure you assess whether the touchscreen and its compatible stylus (if there is one) work as well as you need them to. Some portable monitors are good enough for note-taking, but can’t achieve the kind of detail you’re probably used to with your iPad or Wacom tablet.

More than anything, it’s important to make sure the portable screen is compatible with your laptop in the first place. You’ll also want to suss its available ports – how many are there and what type are they? There’s nothing more annoying than realising it has a HDMI port, but your ultra-thin laptop only permits USB-C connections. It’s an easy fix – just grab a USB hub.

This is also true for screen extenders. Since most of them clip onto the back of your laptop, it’s important you order the correct screen size and check if that brand is compatible with your PC. For instance, some brands that might work with Windows, won’t work with Apple products, which may throw a spanner in the works. So just ensure you check its compatibility before you commit.

Battery is another crucial thing to check. Will you need to charge your portable monitor before you head out? Or does it rely on the connected device’s battery? If it’s the latter, then you’ll want to make sure your charger is on hand since the screen will cause your device’s battery to drain much quicker than expected.

And lastly, screen resolution and refresh rate. A full HD resolution (1920 x 1080) will serve you well regardless of whether you’re working, gaming or creating. You can go up to 4k resolution if you want your screen to be extra bright and clear, but it purely depends on your needs. For refresh rates, the most common speed you’ll find is 60Hz, which should let you get all of your work done with no dramas. However, if you do plan on using a portable monitor for gaming, no less than 120Hz is a safe bet.

Read on to discover some of the best portable monitors you should consider for your second screen.

The best portable monitors in Australia

espresso monitor

espresso displays is one of the best portable monitors
Image: espresso

We reviewed the espresso display in 2022 and was blown away by its super bright screen and sleek design. This monitor can connect your Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 5, is super easy to get started and has a variety of intuitive touch controls to make customisation much easier. The screen itself sports a full HD display with 300 nits. While it looks bright and colourful, there isn’t as much detail in the images onscreen compared to what your TV might offer.

Our only issues were the costs associated with the extra accessories and its touchscreen. While good for the most part, it was not writing-friendly. But, it’s only 865g and 5.3mm thin, which has earned itself the title of the “world’s thinnest display”. You can read our full review here.

Where to buy: espresso (from $529)

ASUS ProArt Display PA148CTV Monitor

ASUS ProArt PA148CTV 14inch FHD Portable USB-C IPS Portable Touch Monitor
Image: ASUS

Made for graphic designers and digital artists, this portable monitor has a screen that pops with colour. Weighing in at 740g, it’s super lightweight, has a screen size of 14 inches and a 10-point touch screen.

There is also an anti-glare coating, which makes it ideal for use in a park or while sitting at some alfresco dining. But another highlight is its ultra low blue light technology, which will reduce the level of eye strain you might experience from staring at a screen for too long.

We appreciate its dual USB-C and micro HDMI ports, as well as its handy tripod socket in case you want to take it on set at your next shoot. You can also read our full review here.

Where to buy: Amazon ($583) | digiDirect ($578) | eBay ($701.34)

ASUS ROG Strix 17.3″ 1080P Portable Gaming Monitor

Portable monitor
Image: ASUS

Designed with gamers in mind, the ASUS ROG portable monitor boasts a full HD resolution and a 240Hz refresh rate for a fluid, tear-free experience. It sits on the large side of the portable screen spectrum at 17.3 inches, featuring thin bezels to maximise its screen size.

Despite its slim chassis, it can fit a HDMI cable for your console or laptop, a USB port for your smartphone and even a headphone jack. There’s also a built-in battery that can serve up to three hours while playing.

Where to buy: Amazon ($782.73) | eBay ($999) | Mwave ($949)

ASUS ZenScreen USB Monitor

Portable monitor
Image: ASUS

We’ve seen one for creatives and one for gamers, so now here’s a portable screen that’s perfect for the professional. This monitor is super easy to set up and only requires a single USB-C cable to be plugged in for you to get started with your day’s tasks.

Regardless of whether you prefer to work in landscape or portrait mode, this screen can rotate to help you achieve everything just as efficiently as you would with a static monitor. The price is also on the budget-friendly end, but the only catch is that it’s not as bright as some other monitors.

Where to buy: Amazon ($241.53) | Catch ($403.53) | eBay ($399)

AOC e1659Fwu 16-Inch Ultra Slim Monitor

portable monitor
Image: AOC

As one of the cheapest portable screens on this list, you’ll get a solid bang for your buck.

Featuring an ultra-wide 16-inch screen, this AOC monitor is wall mountable so you can save on desk space. A great option for those who are curious about the convenience of a portable monitor but don’t want to commit to the sting of a $500+ price tag.

Where to buy: Amazon ($168) | eBay ($183.05) | Kogan ($200.49)

LG Electronics Portable Monitor

Portable monitor
Image: LG

This portable LG monitor is a delight to use thanks to its surprisingly bright, 16-inch screen. Despite sitting on the larger side of the portable monitor spectrum, this baby only weighs 1.68kg. What stands out to us is its auto-rotate feature.

While most portable monitors need a little bit of configuration to switch into orientation, this LG monitor flips from horizontal to vertical as quickly as your smartphone does while watching a YouTube video.

Where to buy: Amazon ($463.90) | Catch ($577) | Kogan ($509)

SideTrak Swivel Attachable Portable Monitor

Image: Sidetrak

Here’s where we veer away from the traditional portable monitor. This is what’s referred to as a laptop screen extender and is physically attachable to the right hand side of your laptop. While it still requires a USC-C connection for power, it’s remarkably more flexible than what you’d experience with a portable monitor. All you have to do is mount it to the side of your screen and off you go.

While portable monitors can be positioned vertically or horizontally, their movement is limited by its stand or case. The SideTrak Swivel laptop extender can rotate 270-degrees and swivel the full 360-degrees. It also happens to be compatible with both Windows and Mac, as well as most screen sizes.

Where to buy: Amazon ($794.69) | U-Buy ($675)

TeamGee Triple Portable Monitor

Portable screen extender
Image: TeamGee

Three screens are better than one. With the TeamGee triple screen extender, you can answer a Zoom call on one screen, use the left one for taking notes and the third one to present your business pitch.

This laptop IPS screen extender features a full HD resolution, can be fitted on a 13-16 inch display and a built-in speaker.

The only catch is that it weighs 2.43kg, which is on the heavier side of portable monitors. You will also want to ensure your laptop has a sturdier build if you want to enjoy these extra screens, plus the extra weight might not be good to shoulder while in your backpack.

Where to buy: Amazon (from $908.57)

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At Gizmodo, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.