Which budget portable monitor is best?
Whether you’re a graphic designer or spend your working hours poring over spreadsheets and code, an additional monitor provides valuable extra real estate you can use to enlarge your work or view multiple projects at once. If you work on the go, however, you need a portable monitor specifically designed to expand the display of your laptop or tablet.
Thankfully, you can purchase a portable monitor without breaking your budget. If you want to take full advantage of your laptop’s display capabilities, the InnoView Ultra Slim Portable Monitor is our top choice. It offers a full 15.6-inch display and flexibility at a great price.
What to know before you buy a budget portable monitor
Make certain that the portable monitor you choose is compatible with your laptop or device. While portable monitors are compatible with most devices, you might need to purchase extra adapters to make them work with ones that are older or made by lesser-known manufacturers.
Size and weight
Selecting the largest monitor size that’s reasonable for your needs will help you take best advantage of the device’s portability and capabilities. Larger screens provide more room to work, but may be more challenging to store, transport and set up in cramped areas. Select a monitor that is lightweight and won’t add a significant amount of heft to the equipment you typically carry for work.
Some portable monitors are able to draw power directly from your computer via a single USB-C connection. While this provides a clean, efficient approach to cable management, it may also result in a quickly-drained laptop battery. A portable monitor with more than one USB port allows you to power your monitor with a dedicated power bank or AC power while it is connected to your computer. The pros and cons of the power options available for portable monitors are largely dependent on where and how the user intends to use their monitor.
Portable monitor tips
Safe storage: If your preferred monitor does not come with a protective case, consider purchasing a small tablet or laptop case to keep it in while traveling. Be sure to carefully measure your monitor to ensure it will fit.
Cleaning: Clean your portable monitor as you would your laptop’s screen. However, keep in mind that many portable monitor screens will be made out of plastic as opposed to glass. Because of this, they can scratch easily. Avoid paper products and gently wipe your monitor off with a microfiber cloth.
Power: A portable power bank can come in useful for many purposes. Using one with your portable monitor will take some strain off of your laptop’s battery and allow you to work longer in situations where AC power is unavailable.
What to look for in a quality budget portable monitor
Most portable monitors provide full HD 1080p resolution, which is the industry standard. Models that provide 4K resolution are also available. However, unless you are doing visually-heavy graphics work or simply want the highest resolution possible, these monitors may not be worth the additional cost.
Portable monitors will often ship with a protective cover that doubles as a kickstand. Others may also include brackets, holes or clamps that allow them to attach to desks, larger monitors or other surfaces for maximum flexibility.
Historically, portable monitors have lagged behind their stationary counterparts when it comes to image quality, with washed out displays and limited viewing angles. However, modern advancements have nearly eliminated these drawbacks. To take advantage of what the latest technology has to offer, select a portable monitor that has a reputation for crisp, brilliant images and a broad range of viewing angles.
For users who need to integrate a touchscreen into their workflow, select a portable monitor that will allow you to continue using this feature.
Ports and connectivity
Many portable monitors connect to your computer or tablet via a USB cable, though the type of cable used depends on the model of your monitor. Be sure to note which ports are available on your device, if any. Some tablets may only connect to external devices through Bluetooth, which is problematic if your portable monitor doesn’t have that capability.
Some portable monitors have additional input ports for HDMI, allowing you to connect them to a portable DVD player, camera or game console. Varied ports open up more connection and power opportunities, so consider your intended usage and select a monitor that will work best with your devices.
How much you can expect to spend on a budget portable monitor
You can purchase a portable monitor for between $150-$250. When considering budget portable monitors, models that fall into the $150-$200 range will have the quality and include the features needed to satisfy most users.
Budget portable monitor FAQ
Do portable monitors need AC power?
A. No. While these devices can be powered via AC power using a USB charging block, they can also draw power directly from your computer or a portable USB power bank.
Can I connect multiple portable monitors to my computer?
A. Possibly. Your connection options will be limited by the available ports on your computer, as well as your device’s graphics card. Keep in mind that having multiple monitors will use a significant amount of power, as well as create the need to travel with more cables and gear.
Can I connect my game console or camera to a portable monitor?
A. Depending on the monitor’s input options, yes. Many photographers use small portable monitors connected to their camera via a mini HDMI cable to view their subjects more easily. Game consoles can be connected using HDMI, as well. Keep in mind that HDMI cables do not carry power.
What’s the best budget portable monitor to buy?
Top budget portable monitor
What you need to know: This portable monitor provides a variety of ports for both input and power.
What you’ll love: With both USB-C and HDMI ports, this monitor can connect to almost any device. It includes a sturdy kickstand, as well as a collection of cables and adapters to accommodate your preferred connection.
What you should consider: This monitor does not come with a protective case or cover.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top budget portable monitor for the money
What you need to know: This portable monitor from Asus provides full HD clarity in a lightweight, affordable package.
What you’ll love: This portable monitor’s metal construction makes it durable and easy to travel with. This device is extremely slim, and its USB 3.0 connection means it can draw power and display your work using just one cable.
What you should consider: Single USB 3.0 port limits this monitor’s flexibility as well as your ability to connect it to a power bank.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This tiny monitor features flexible connections and built-in speakers.
What you’ll love: Small and easy to store, this monitor is ideal for use on job sites or for photographers looking for a larger display. It can be mounted in a variety of ways and can be used both horizontally and vertically.
What you should consider: This monitor’s small size and high price make it the best choice for a niche user base.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Derek Walborn writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.