Last updated: August 17, 2021

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Portable monitors make it much easier for you to work when you are on the road. Without much extra weight, you can increase your productivity and achieve better results with the help of a portable screen. The handy screens are also popular for entertainment while travelling.

Our big portable monitor test 2021 is designed to help you find the best portable monitor for you. To do this, we answer the typical questions you ask yourself before buying. In order to support you as much as possible in your decision, we present the essential purchase criteria in this article.




Summary

  • A portable monitor is basically a second screen for your laptop. Unlike the more familiar desktop version, this variant is mobile and perfect for travelling.
  • The light weight is a particular plus for all digital nomads whose office can be anywhere in the world and who need to carry their equipment around with them all the time.
  • With the right connections, you can connect a portable monitor to a wide variety of control devices. From smartphones to tablets to laptops to Xbox, Playstation or Nintendo Switch, everything is possible.

The Best Portable Monitor in the United Kingdom: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a portable monitor

What is a portable monitor and who is it for?

A portable monitor is a lightweight, portable screen that can be used in addition to a laptop or smartphone. Its compactness makes it suitable for anyone who needs a second screen when on the move.

Second screens for the desk have long been known and popular. (Image source: unsplash.com / Matt Pike)

Cable connections provide power and data transfer, making it quick and convenient to connect a mobile monitor and use it anywhere.

The second screen makes it easier to work on the go and can thus improve efficiency. For this reason, portable monitors are particularly suitable for business travellers or digital nomads who do not have a fixed office.

But you can also use a portable monitor for mobile entertainment. Many models can also be connected to a smartphone. Instead of the small mobile phone screen, you can enjoy films or games on a larger display. You can also connect consoles directly to the portable display and play games on the go.

For what purpose do you need a portable monitor?

As mentioned above, portable monitors are suitable for all kinds of different activities. Before you choose one of these portable monitors, you should be aware of the purpose for which you want to use it. The following list shows what you should look for depending on the purpose.

Purpose Features
Working on the go Basically, you can use all popular models for this purpose. However, make sure that the monitor can also be connected to your laptop (or smartphone).
Image editing Graphic designers and anyone else who needs to edit images should place an increased focus on the monitor's colour contrast. IPS panel technologies are recommended in this regard, as they produce a high-contrast display with stable viewing angles.
Portable Gaming Monitor One fact you should keep in mind when making a purchase decision is that the main focus of these portable monitors is their portability. So you may have to make some sacrifices in terms of technical performance. Models with TN panel technology allow relatively short response times of about 25ms.

Of course, there are no fixed rules about which monitor you may use. However, it makes sense to look at the relevant technical features before buying. You can find out more about this in the section on buying criteria.

What are the alternatives to mobile monitors?

If you already have a newer tablet or iPad, you can use it as an external portable monitor.

Allows for both duplicate and extended screen use

To do this, you need the Twomon SE app on both your computer and your tablet. You can download it from the App Store. Then connect the computer to your tablet via a USB cable.

If you don't have time to watch a video, we have summarised the advantages and disadvantages of this option for you here:

Advantages
  • You don't have to buy a new device
  • Own battery
  • Touchscreen
Disadvantages
  • (Mostly) quite small screen
  • Quality

Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate portable monitors

In the next part, we will show you which aspects you can use to decide between the many possible portable monitors.

The criteria you can use to compare portable monitors include:

In the next few paragraphs we explain what you should look for in each criterion.

Size and weight

The most common portable monitors have a screen size between 11 and 17 inches. However, there are also smaller and larger versions. Think about how big the monitor can be so that it still fits in your bag.

The big advantage of portable monitors is their light weight. Many models even weigh less than 1 kg. Of course, weight and size are always related. So you need to find the best compromise between compactness and usefulness.

According to the principle: Small and light as possible, but as big as necessary.

These two criteria are especially important if you travel light and fly often. Of course, you want to carry as little weight as possible.

Power supply

Portable monitors are usually powered by the laptop to which they are connected. However, there are also some models that have an integrated battery.

Office with a view: With a good battery on your laptop and portable monitor, any place can become your office. (Image source: unsplash.com / Julien Z)

This has the advantage that you can basically use them longer without charging the laptop. However, a battery makes itself felt in the weight, which in turn can be inconvenient. So if you have a laptop with a powerful battery, you can do without a battery in your second screen.

Display resolution

The most common models are HD-capable, which corresponds to a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. This should normally be enough for most work. If you're looking for a particularly cheap option and a lower resolution is enough for you, take a look at models with 1366 x 768 pixels.

If you need a particularly good resolution, look for 4K-capable devices. These are also available, but they are quite expensive. But you will be rewarded with great pictures. The high resolution is especially suitable for gamers or graphic designers.

Connections and compatibility

Most portable monitors have only two or three connections. This means that you should consider which ones you need before buying so that your device is compatible with the monitor. Common ports include Type-C USB, (Mini) HDMI and Mini DP. Most devices also have headphone jacks.

Especially if you plan to connect a game console to the mobile monitor, you should find out which connections are used to transmit the video signals.

It's best to read through which connection cables are included in the scope of delivery so that you can do without an adapter if possible.

Another aspect of compatibility is the operating system of your laptop. Find out about the system requirements in advance to avoid negative surprises.

Facts worth knowing about portable monitors

Why does my portable monitor have no signal?

There are several reasons why a portable monitor does not get a signal.

Source of error What to do
Wrong connection Since most connections are "mini" or "micro", it can happen quickly that you mix them up. For example, the micro DP will also fit into the micro HDMI port, but this will not connect. Make sure you have connected the right cable to the right connector.
Loose connection If you are using the correct cable and it still won't connect, check to see if the cable is firmly seated in the socket or if it is wobbly. Try to move it to a position where a connection is possible.
Defect A defective cable or broken connections also prevent transmission. In these cases, you will unfortunately have to get a new cable or have your screen repaired.
Setting Apart from the wrong or defective cable or connection, a missing signal can also be due to the setting of the portable monitor. In some cases, you still have to change the input source in the settings. Either use the automatic search or switch directly to the desired connection.

What accessories and additional equipment are available for portable monitors?

To be able to use your portable monitor, it should of course have a stand or similar. Make sure that it is stable and does not tip over at the slightest movement.

With a wall mount, your portable monitor can be used optimally at home and there is more space on your desk. (Image source: unsplash.com / Piotr Wilk)

If you want to use your portable monitor at home, you can consider buying a wall mount. Many models are compatible with the well-known Vesa mounts. The advantage is that these mounts have joints and thus enable ergonomic working.

Many manufacturers combine a protective cover with a mount

An additional protective display cover can be useful if you are really on the road a lot and often work outdoors. More effective than the usual integrated covers are custom-fit protective cases for transport, in which the screen is optimally protected.

For real gaming fans, for example, there are also portable monitors that are already integrated into a case. In this case, there is additional space for your game console and its accessories.

How can I build a portable monitor myself?

DIYs are very trendy at the moment. So why not build a portable second monitor for your laptop yourself?

A DIY portable monitor can cost less than 30 euros

With a little technical skill and the right instructions, you can create your own individual portable monitor. You can find various instructions for DIY portable monitors on the Internet. On the one hand, you can save old laptops from being scrapped and, on the other hand, you can get a cheap alternative for a second monitor. But be careful: even if it sounds easy at first glance, you are working with electronics. Any part that is not properly processed is a potential source of danger!

The following list should give you a rough idea of what you need for such a project. For a detailed list of materials and where you can buy them, follow the instructions:

  • An (old) screen
  • A controller board with all the connections you need
  • Connecting cable
  • Materials of your choice for the frame and cover
  • Also tools for (dis)assembling the individual parts

There are different ideas, so feel free to look around for a while until you find something that suits you. There are also some creative ideas for the design and there are no limits to your imagination.

Image source: Subbotina/ 123rf.com

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