The BEST PORTABLE MONITOR for Digital Nomads – Reviews 2020

by Oliver Boyers
Portable monitors

Portable monitors will change your life. Once you are accustomed to using two or more monitors, there is no going back to being a single screen pleb. In this post, we reveal the best portable monitor in 2020. Thankfully, in this day and age, we have the tech to allow us to stay close to our additional screen space even when traveling or working remotely.

We have traveled the world as digital nomads – with and without a portable monitor – and can say with certainty that having one increases our productivity by about 20%.

Why Invest In A Portable Monitor?

There are so many perks to having a portable monitor. For me, it has changed the game in terms of my productivity when coding or working on design related items. Other reasons include:

  • Convenience
  • Portable Gaming
  • Productivity
  • Look like a mysterious hacker – only if you use dark themes in all your windows

How To Pick The Best Monitor

There are certain key features that you need to look out for to ensure that you select the best portable monitor. Not all portable monitors work with all computers so pay attention.

What Is Your Purpose?

This is the first question you have to ask yourself. Are you going to use your portable monitor for graphic design, web development, just to browse the internet and check emails? All of this will determine what kind of screen and specs you need.

Input Connection NB! NB! NB!

Portable monitors come with a few different connections such as USB, wireless, USB-C, and firewire. BEWARE, some screens may not work with your computer so check the connection first.

I purchased a portable laptop monitor that had a USB-C connection but my MacBook Pro 2015 only has a USB port. I thought this wouldn’t be an issue as I have an adapter to convert USB-C to USB. But this wasn’t the case. The USB-C to USB adapter wasn’t able to make the connection. There is no workaround or driver that you can get to solve the problem. Period. I had to send it back. Here is a guide to screen input connections.

Weight

The lighter the better. All frequent travelers aspire to be minimalists but us non-devout minimalists invariably end up overpacking (we don’t always stick to our recommended digital nomad packing list). When you are light you are happy. When you are heavy, you are in hell carrying your bag up a million steps in Portugal. An actual hell I have visited.

Size

This is a fine balance between getting valuable screen real estate and lugging around a big object. I try to strike a balance between the two.

Resolution

If you are a design guy or gal then you will want this to be as high as possible. Normally these monitors have a fairly low resolution to save on power and cost so pay close attention to this spec. If you are just going to be using the screen to read documents and webpages then 720 p should be good. Any lower and it just looks grainy. Here is a handy guide on screen resolution.

Speakers

Some screens have speakers, others do not. Once again, reassess your requirements.

The Best Portable Monitor in 2020 (Reviews)

So without further ado, here is our list of best portable monitors.

  1. ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC – Advanced portable monitor for laptop
  2. AOC e1659Fwu 15.6-Inch Ultra Slim – Best USB monitor on a budget
  3. Cocopar Gaming Monitor – Portable gaming monitor
  4. Lepow 15.6 Inch Computer Display – Slim travel monitor
  5. ZSCMALLS Portable Monitor – Portable HDMI monitor
  6. Newsoul USB C Portable Monitor – Wireless portable monitor
  7. Lepow Upgraded – Portable laptop monitor

* Just to let you know that this article contains affiliate links. If you click on them we might receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you

1.    ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC – Advanced Portable Monitor For Laptop

Screen size: 15.6”

Input: USB (Driver needed) & USB-C

Weight: 1.7 pounds (0.78 kgs)

Resolution: 1920 x 1080

As a digital nomad working as a web developer, this is the perfect tool to allow me to have both code and website open simultaneously. It really sucks having to flick between windows when working and this solves that problem. This is our top pick as it ticks all the boxes. Hi-res, multiple signal input, and lightweight. While it does a lot, it also dents the wallet a little more than the competition.

Pros

  • Light
  • 2 input types
  • Automatic orientation
  • Flicker-free backlighting
  • Blue light filter to reduce eye strain

Cons

  • Requires driver for USB
  • More expensive compared to other
  • So light that it could be fragile

View the ASUS ZenScreen

 

2.    AOC e1659Fwu 15.6-Inch Ultra Slim – Best USB Monitor On A Budget

Screen size: 15.6”

Input: USB 3.0

Weight: 2.4 pounds (1.09 kgs)

Resolution: 1366 x 768

This is a great cost-effective monitor that will increase your productivity by 20% (in my opinion). It’s a little more on the bulky side but it makes up for it with a good price tag. The resolution isn’t the highest either but if its portable screen real estate you are looking for on a budget, then this is the one for you.

Pros

  • Great price
  • Works on Mac and PC
  • USB powered (no need for a power cable)

Cons

  • Low-resolution screen
  • Heavier than the others

View the AOC e1659FWU Ultra Slim

 

3.    Cocopar Gaming Monitor – Portable Gaming Monitor

Screen size: 17.3”

Input: USB 3.1 Type-C, mini DP, HDMI port

Weight: 2.68 pounds (1.22 kgs)

Resolution: 1080p HDR

This monitor will keep you gaming whether you are in the back of a bus traveling long distances or in working in Bali in a remote coffee shop. It’s a bit larger than your average monitor which will help you frag your enemies faster. The multiple input options will keep you gaming on your phone, PS4 or Xbox with no issues.

Pros

  • No stuttering due to FreeSync
  • 6 display modes: Standard, RTS, FPS, Text, Movie, Game
  • Wall mountable
  • 5mm audio jack

Cons

  • Heavier
  • HDR
  • Speakers not that powerful

View the Cocopar Gaming Monitor

 

4.    Lepow 15.6 Inch Computer Display – Slim Travel Monitor

Screen size: 15.6”

Input: USB-C and HDMI mini

Weight: 1.76 pounds (0.8 kgs)

Resolution: 1920 x 1080 Full HD

These guys back their product with a 3 year warranty which is amazing for a piece of equipment that will be on the go most of the time and probably take a bit of wear and tear. To be honest, it’s pretty had to find con’s on this one and the middle of the road price makes it a strong contender.

Pros

  • Multiple inputs
  • Built-in speakers
  • Also compatible with XBOX, PS3/4, Wii or Nintendo Switch
  • 3-year warranty

Cons

  • No USB connection

View the Lepow 15.6 Inch Computer Display

 

5.    ZSCMALLS Portable Monitor – Portable HDMI Monitor

Screen size: 15.6”

Input: HDMI mini – USB C

Weight: 1.42 pounds (0.64 kgs)

Resolution: 1920 x 1080

This super portable 15.6” portable monitor is the perfect companion for someone on the road and working remotely. The 1920×1080 resolution is great for all uses except perhaps the most hardcore graphic designs. It comes in really slim at 0.39 inches and weighs a mere 1.42 pounds.

My favorite feature on this portable monitor is its plug and play capability. Having to install drivers in this day and age just seems obscure. It comes with a great PU leather upper case too which can support the screen in 3 different positions. Bonus!

Pros

  • Plug and play features
  • 3 position PU leather case
  • 3-year warranty
  • HDMI input

Cons

  • Sharp edges
  • Display not super bright

View the ZSCMALLS Portable Monitor

 

6.    Newsoul USB C Portable Monitor – Wireless Portable Monitor

Screen size: 15.6”

Input: HDMI,Type-C,Mini DP,micro USB port

Weight: 1.99 pounds (0.9 kgs)

Resolution: 1920X1080

The Newsoul portable monitor stands out particularly due to the number of input connections that it has. This can be a limiting factor with many portable monitors but this one seems to cover all its bases. It has a wide viewing angle and is great for portable gaming on your phone or on a PS3/PS4 or Xbox.

As an added bonus, the monitor is wireless in the sense that you don’t need to plug it into power. It gets all of the juice and data that it needs from the input connection. 

Pros

  • Multiple inputs
  • 178° IPS Full View Angle
  • Eye care blue light filter
  • Dual stereo speaker

Cons

  • A little heavier and thicker
  • Pricer (at the time of writing)
  • HDR

View the Newsoul USB C Portable Monitor

 

7.    Lepow Upgraded – Portable Laptop Monitor

Screen size: 15.6”

Input: Mini HD(Video signal), USB-Type C full function( Video data, Power supply ISDN), Type C power supply

Weight: 1.76 pounds (0.8 kgs)

Resolution: 1920 x 1080

This is the perfect companion to take on a plane or train. It folds out in seconds and is fully USB-C compatible. It has built-in speakers and even a 3.5mm headphone jack for those old school folk.

Pros

  • 5mm headphone jack
  • USB-C fully compatible
  • Smart Phone to Computer direct connection
  • Can be used with an external power source

Cons

  • This device requires a connection to a device with an HD output interface, computers with full Type C video output capability (you can’t use adapters here)

View the Lepow upgraded

Final Thoughts On The Best Portable Monitors

The portable monitor industry has really taken off and we are getting some amazing monitors at the moment. I think that we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg and the best is yet to come.

The effect that the portable monitor has had on my productivity has been invaluable and I highly recommend getting one for all digital nomads and remote workers. All you have to do now is take your pick!

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