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The best portable monitors to buy in 2023

Strapped for space and desperate for a second screen? The best portable monitors can help

Portable monitors aren’t the best-known variety of display, but they’re exceptionally useful. That’s particularly true if you’re working from home or on the move: portable monitors are light, slim and small enough to pack into a rucksack, and they usually draw power straight from your device, meaning you can use one just about anywhere.

Given their status as the least common monitor type, portable monitors are a tricky thing to buy. In our experience it’s very easy to go wrong, particularly since many manufacturers produce portable monitors that look and feel like an afterthought.

That’s why we’ve been busy testing as many portable monitors as we can get our hands on. In the following article you’ll find our pick of the best portable monitors you can buy right now. If you don’t know quite what you’re looking for, we’ve also included a detailed buying guide to explain exactly what a portable monitor is and how to go about choosing the best one for you.

READ NEXT: Best monitors for home offices

Best portable monitor: At a glance

How to choose the best portable monitor for you

What is a portable monitor?

Tablet-like in appearance, a portable monitor is a small display that connects to your device, usually via a single cable, with the aim of expanding screen real estate. Most portable monitors draw power directly from the connected device and therefore cannot hold a charge.

How do portable monitors differ from regular monitors?

Stand: Most portable monitors come with built-in kickstands or folio covers that double as stands. That means you’re getting zero adjustability, so maintaining good posture involves propping the monitor as high as you can.

Connectivity & extras: A regular monitor will offer a good selection of ports for video, audio, peripherals and possibly power delivery. Most regular monitors also have speakers. Portable monitors almost universally lack all of the above, aside from one or two ports for power and video.

Customisation: Most portable monitors don’t have an on-screen display (OSD), so you won’t be able to play with any settings other than adjusting the brightness.

How much should I spend?

Portable monitors sit in the budget monitor price range, so roughly from £150-£350. You shouldn’t be spending more than that, since these monitors simply do not have the feature set to justify a higher price tag.

What size should I buy?

Portable monitors are usually 14in-17in in size (that’s measured diagonally across the screen). You might want to match the screen size to that of your laptop/tablet, if you’re using one, but otherwise it’s just a question of budget and requirements. Even 17in is small enough to work on the go, however.

What other specifications should I look out for?

Resolution: Ideally, you want a portable monitor with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 or above. This is the standard for most modern portable monitors.

Refresh rate: This is unimportant for portable monitors (as you won’t be gaming on them) but you should expect a refresh rate of 60Hz.

Brightness: One of the few things you’ll be able to tweak on a portable monitor, brightness is measured in candela per metres squared (cd/m²) or nits, so keep an eye out for those. If you’re on the go a lot you’ll want something that can exceed 300 nits to counteract sitting in direct sunlight.

Buttons: Another one of the few features present on a portable monitor. It’s not essential, but many portable monitors have rockers that control the brightness alongside a power button, so look out for that.

Ports: Most modern portable monitors use USB-C for power and video transmission, so if your laptop, PC, smartphone or tablet relies on other forms of connector, you’ll have to take that into account. If not USB-C, the monitor may have microUSB or even mini-HDMI ports for video and power transmission.

READ NEXT: Best budget monitors

How we test portable monitors

Portable monitors undergo most of the same rigourous tests as any other monitor we review. We start by taking measurements of colour gamut coverage, accuracy and temperature, peak luminance, black point, contrast and panel uniformity using DisplayCal’s calibration software and an X-Rite colorimeter. We then use Blur Busters’ web-based tools to check for ghosting/inverse ghosting and motion blur.

After we’ve finished running quantitative tests, we use the monitor for at least a week, working on it daily and assessing build quality and any other features. As portable monitors generally lack OSDs and proper stands and have little to no additional ports, we cannot run our usual qualitative tests, but we will compare the monitor against rivals to see how well it stacks up value-wise.

The best portable monitors you can buy in 2023

1. LG Gram Plus View: The best portable monitor

Price when reviewed: £300 | Check price at LG

The LG Gram Plus View does its utmost to make portable monitors glamorous. With a 16:10 design intended to mimic that of the latest LG Gram 17 laptop, the Plus View is remarkably slim and light, meaning that despite its size it can be easily carried around in a rucksack. It connects to your device via USB-C (there’s a port on each side) and it has a rocker that controls brightness on the right-hand edge.

The magnetic folio case (which covers the screen and a portion of the rear when closed) doubles as a stand that can be angled at either 105° or 120°. This monitor can also be propped either horizontally or vertically, although you’ll need to install the LG OnScreen Control app to access vertical orientation mode.

Where this monitor (literally) shines, however, is in our tests. Delivering a wide colour gamut with surprising accuracy, the LG Gram Plus View is incredibly vibrant and reaches a peak brightness of 342cd/m², which is enough for any scenario. This monitor is suitable for working in the DCI-P3 colour space, which will be great news for creatives stuck working from a single dinky laptop screen. Yes, it’s more expensive than some, but if you want the best, the Plus View is it.

Read our full LG Gram Plus View review for details

Key specs – Screen size: 17in; Resolution: 2,560 x 1,600; Screen technology: IPS; Video inputs: USB-C; Refresh rate: 60Hz; Weight (with case): 990g

Check price at LG

2. Asus ZenScreen MB16ACE: The best 1080p portable monitor

Price when reviewed: £209 | Check price at Amazon

The Asus MB16ACE connects to your laptop via USB-C or HDMI (both cables and a mains adapter are supplied in the box) and comes with a case that props it up at various angles, a bit like an iPad case.

It’s available in a number of different configurations: the one with a battery and touchscreen is the most expensive (MB16AMT) but you can also buy a basic version that sacrifices touch and the battery for a saving of over £100.

All the models use the same 15.6in 60Hz 1080p IPS panel, too, so you’re not missing out on image quality. Peak brightness isn’t amazing, but you don’t really need a lot of brightness on an office screen. It has excellent viewing angles and the anti-glare coating means reflections are kept to an absolute minimum. It even comes with an orientation sensor so you can use it in portrait mode as well as landscape.

Colour reproduction is disappointing with sRGB coverage of 57.5% but otherwise, this is a fantastic solution for those who don’t have space for a full-size desktop monitor.

Key specs – Screen size: 15.6in; Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Screen technology: IPS; Video inputs: Mini-HDMI, USB-C; Refresh rate: 60Hz; Weight (with case): 800g

Check price at Amazon

3. AOC I1601FWUX: The best budget portable monitor

Price when reviewed: £159 | Check price at Amazon

If the Asus above is too costly for you, you might want to consider AOC’s barebones I1601FWUX instead. It lacks the Asus’ mini-HDMI connectivity, but if your laptop has USB-C out that’s not a problem, and there are plenty of reasons to consider it besides the price.

It has a 15.6in, 60Hz 1080p IPS panel with good viewing angles and an anti-glare, matte finish to keep reflections at bay. And although it doesn’t come with a fully protective folio case, the supplied folding stand can be attached to the front to protect the screen while it’s stowed away.

As with the Asus, don’t expect professional-grade colour accuracy here. The screen only covers 52.9% of the sRGB colour gamut and peak brightness is a mere 203cd/m². However, images look punchy and crisp and it does the job in an unfussy way.

Key specs – Screen size: 15.6in; Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Screen technology: IPS; Video inputs: USB-C; Refresh rate: 60Hz; Weight: 824g

Check price at Amazon

4. Acer PM161Q: Best value portable monitor

Price when reviewed: £168 | Check price at Amazon

Like many portable monitors, the Acer PM161Q isn’t much to look at, but this one happens to deliver where it counts. It connects to your devices via USB-C and has a micro-USB port for additional power delivery if you’re connecting to an older phone. Both cables are included in the box alongside a USB-A power adapter.

The PM161Q opts for a small kickstand that’s hidden on the rear when not in use. It’s sturdy and fairly elegant by the standards of most portable monitors. The same can be said for the monitor itself, which despite looking a touch dated is still light and slim – we’re not overly fond of the chunky bezels but this is par for the course in this corner of the market.

The panel itself is an older TFT IPS number but it’s pretty good, delivering decent colours and colour accuracy when tested. It’s bright enough for most use cases but might struggle with direct sunlight. On the whole, though, using the PM161Q was a perfectly pleasant experience, and given the mid-range price tag and the feature set, it’s hard to ignore.

Key specs – Screen size: 15.6in; Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Screen technology: IPS (TFT); Video inputs: USB-C; Refresh rate: 60Hz; Weight: 970g

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