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Why You Should Consider Buying a Portable Monitor in 2023

Portable monitors have come a long way in the past few years. What was once a niche product for tech enthusiasts has quickly become a mainstream tool embraced by all kinds of users. According to a report by Grand View Research, the global portable monitor market size was valued at USD 186.4 million in 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.3% from 2021 to 2028.

So what‘s driving this rapid growth? As a digital technology expert who‘s tested dozens of portable monitors, I believe it comes down to a few key factors: the rise of remote and mobile work, our increasing reliance on mobile devices, and significant improvements in portable monitor technology and affordability.

In this in-depth guide, I‘ll break down the top reasons why you should consider buying a portable monitor in 2023. I‘ll also compare portable monitors to alternatives like tablets and laptops, offer key buying advice, and give my picks for the best portable monitors on the market for different use cases.

Portable Monitors vs. Tablets and Laptops

Before we dive into the reasons to buy a portable monitor, it‘s important to understand how they differ from other popular mobile devices like tablets and laptops. Here‘s a quick breakdown:

Device Pros Cons
Portable Monitor – Lightweight and slim
– Affordable
– Works with many devices
– No battery required
– Requires a host device
– Limited touchscreen options
– No built-in processing power
Tablet – All-in-one device
– Touchscreen interface
– Long battery life
– Built-in apps/software
– Smaller screen size
– Limited multitasking
– More expensive
Laptop – Built-in keyboard
– Powerful processing
– Runs full desktop software
– Large screen options
– Bulky and heavy
– More expensive
– Shorter battery life

As you can see, portable monitors occupy a unique niche. They offer a slim, lightweight way to add a bigger screen to your existing devices at a much lower cost than tablets or laptops. While they lack built-in processing power, they make up for it in versatility since they can work with your phone, tablet, laptop, or even your game console or camera.

Top Reasons to Buy a Portable Monitor

Now that we‘ve covered how portable monitors compare to the alternatives, let‘s dig into the most compelling reasons to consider buying one this year:

1. Boosted productivity

One of the biggest benefits of portable monitors is their ability to boost your productivity by adding extra screen space to your laptop or mobile device. Several studies have shown the productivity benefits of multiple monitors:

With a portable monitor, you can enjoy these productivity gains anywhere, not just at your desk. For example, you can:

  • Have your Zoom call on your laptop screen while taking notes on your portable monitor
  • Code on one screen while previewing the results on the other
  • Compare documents side by side when writing or editing
  • Have your main design app on one screen and reference images on the second

2. Work from anywhere

Portable monitors have become an essential tool for the growing ranks of remote and hybrid workers. Instead of being tied to a desk with a traditional dual monitor setup, you can take your extra screen with you anywhere.

This flexibility is especially valuable for digital nomads, freelancers, and other location-independent workers who may not have a fixed workspace. With a portable monitor in your bag, you can set up a productive dual-screen workstation at a coffee shop, co-working space, or kitchen table.

Some portable monitors like the Mobile Pixels Duex Plus even attach directly to the back of your laptop, so you have a dual-screen setup everywhere you take your computer. This is incredibly handy for work travel or frequently moving between workspaces.

3. Versatility and compatibility

Another big selling point of portable monitors is their versatility. Most models work with a wide range of devices, from laptops to phones to gaming consoles. So in addition to using them for work, you can enjoy your media and games on a bigger, better screen.

For example, you can connect a portable monitor to your smartphone with a single USB-C cable to watch YouTube or play mobile games on a roomier 15.6" 1080p display. This is a massive upgrade from squinting at a 6" phone screen.

Photographers and videographers will also appreciate using a portable monitor as a larger preview screen in the field. The added screen space makes it easier to review footage and check focus or exposure.

Many portable monitors also have multiple input options (USB-C, HDMI, DisplayPort) and allow you to switch between devices with ease. So you can use the same portable monitor with your work laptop during the day and your gaming console at night.

4. Affordable alternative to tablets and laptops

Portable monitors provide a big screen experience at a much lower price point than flagship tablets like the iPad Pro or a second laptop.

For example, you can get a 1080p portable monitor from a reputable brand like Lenovo or ASUS for around $200. In contrast, a 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $1,099 and a mobile secondary laptop like a Surface Go is around $400.

This makes portable monitors a compelling option for anyone looking to maximize their screen real estate on a budget, like students, freelancers, or startups. They are also a more affordable way to enjoy a better entertainment experience on the go compared to premium tablets.

Key Features to Look for in a Portable Monitor

If the use cases and benefits above have persuaded you to add a portable monitor to your tech arsenal, you may be wondering how to choose the right one. While the perfect model depends on your needs and budget, here are some of the most important features I recommend looking for:

  • Screen size and resolution: 15.6" is the most common size and best for general productivity. A 1080p (1920 x 1080) resolution is standard and looks crisp at this size. 4K is overkill for most at this screen size.

  • Panel type: IPS (in-plane switching) panels offer better colors and viewing angles than TN (twisted nematic) or VA (vertical alignment) screens, so they are worth paying a bit more for. OLED screens have the best image quality but are much pricier.

  • Connectivity: The more input options, the better. At minimum, look for a monitor with a USB-C port that supports video, power, and data over a single cable. Full-size HDMI and mini DisplayPort provide flexibility to connect to older devices.

  • Design and durability: A slim, lightweight design makes a monitor easier to carry. A protective cover or case is another nice extra. Look for sturdier metal builds if you plan to travel frequently.

  • Controls and settings: Dedicated buttons or a joystick nub to navigate settings menus is very helpful. Extra features like blue light filters and flicker-free backlights help reduce eye strain.

Best Portable Monitors for Different Needs

With dozens of portable monitors to choose from, picking the right one can seem daunting. To help you narrow it down, here are my top picks for different needs based on extensive hands-on testing:

  • Best overall productivity monitor: ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC
    This 15.6" 1080p monitor ticks all the key boxes for productivity. The IPS panel is bright and color-accurate, it supports USB-C with power delivery, and the slim bezels keep the footprint compact. Extras like a folding smart case, low blue light mode, and ASUS‘s flicker-free backlighting make it comfortable to use all day.

  • Best portable monitor for dual screens: Mobile Pixels Duex Plus
    This unique portable monitor attaches to the back of any laptop to add a second screen with almost no extra bulk. Sliders allow you to position the 1080p screen on either side of your laptop display. It‘s a clever option for frequent travelers who want an ultra-portable dual-screen setup.

  • Best touchscreen portable monitor: ViewSonic TD1655
    If you want a portable monitor with full 10-point touch capabilities, this 15.6" 1080p IPS display is your best bet. It‘s great for creatives using a stylus or anyone who prefers navigating Windows with touch. The included folding stand offers a wide range of angles.

  • Best portable gaming monitor: ASUS ROG Strix XG17AHPE
    Serious gamers will love this massive 17.3" 1080p IPS display with a speedy 240Hz refresh rate and 3ms response time. It has a built-in battery for up to 3 hours of untethered gaming and a folding kickstand. The screen is compatible with both NVIDIA G-SYNC and AMD FreeSync Premium for super smooth gaming performance.

Future of Portable Monitors

As remote work and mobile lifestyles continue to become the norm, I expect portable monitors to keep gaining popularity and improving. Some exciting developments on the horizon include:

  • Lighter, slimmer designs thanks to advancements in panel technology and materials. For example, some concept designs less than 0.2" thick are in the works.

  • Improved battery life and efficiency for monitors with built-in batteries. Manufacturers are exploring new battery technologies and more efficient components.

  • Higher resolution panels with wider color gamuts for creative professionals and enthusiasts. 4K portable monitors with full DCI-P3 coverage should become more common and affordable in the next few years.

  • Wireless connectivity to untether your secondary screen setup completely. Several models that use Wi-Fi or proprietary wireless tech to connect to devices are already available.

  • Touchscreen stylus support will allow creatives to use portable monitors for digital art and design work on the go, not just as a secondary display.

With these innovations, I believe portable monitors will become an increasingly essential tool for many different types of users in the coming years. Whether you‘re a digital nomad, mobile creative, gamer, or student, there‘s never been a better time to invest in a portable monitor.

Final Thoughts

Portable monitors have evolved from a niche curiosity to a seriously useful gadget that can benefit almost anyone who works on a computer or enjoys media and gaming on the go. By adding precious screen real estate to the devices you already own, they can supercharge your productivity, flexibility, and entertainment.

When you consider the massive boosts to mobile productivity and leisure that portable monitors offer at a reasonable price, it‘s easy to see why they are one of the fastest-growing PC accessory categories. Personally, I never leave home without one in my bag.

So if you‘re looking to step up your work or play on the go in 2023, I highly recommend giving a portable monitor a try. With the buyer‘s guide and top picks in this article, you‘re well equipped to choose the perfect model for your needs and budget. Happy buying!