Best Portable Monitors and Other Ways to Extend Screen While Traveling

If you ever had to work on one document while referencing another one on a single 13-inch laptop screen, you certainly know how frustrating it can get switching between the two windows.

Best Portable Monitors and Other Ways to Extend Screen While Traveling

Luckily, nowadays, it is quite affordable and easy to increase your “screen real estate,” even on the road.

The two main methods in which you can extend your screen while traveling are using apps that allow you to turn your portable device’s screen into your laptop’s second monitor and using dedicated portable monitors.

Keep on reading to learn about what some of the best portable monitors are, and about the advantages and disadvantages of using either of the two methods to extend your laptop’s screen while away from home.

First, though, here’s a quick overview of the four portable monitors that I talk about further in this article:

Portable MonitorBudgetSizeResolutionWeightDetails
Asus MB169B+$$15.6"1920 x 10801.8 lbs
(800 g)
Check on Amazon
AOC e1659Fwu$15.6"1366 x 7683 lbs
(1.35 kg)
Check on Amazon
GeChic 1303i$$$13.3"1920 x 10802 lbs
(1 kg)
Check on Amazon
Lilliput UM-70$7"800 x 4801 lbs
(500 g)
Check on Amazon

4 Best Portable Monitors You Can Get in 2018

One thing to keep in mind before continuing, is that the monitors in this list are in no particular order.

Instead, I picked a monitor that I consider to be the best for each of the following four categories: best portable monitor overall, and best budget, small, and touchscreen portable monitor.

Asus MB169B+: Best Portable Monitor Overall (Best Large Portable Monitor)

Don’t let the 15.6-inch screen size of the Asus MB169B+ portable monitor make you think that it is not well-suited for travel. While the monitor is the largest one on this list and so it might not fit into smaller laptop bags, if you have one designed to carry a 15-inch laptop, then the monitor’s size should not pose a problem to you.

And, the fact that it is just 8.5 milimeters (0.33 inch) thick and weighs only 800 grams (1.8 pounds), and comes with a protective sleeve which doubles as a stand adds to its attractiveness as a travel monitor.

The monitor offers full HD resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels) and does not require access to power outlet or multiple USB ports to work. Instead, it uses just a single USB 3.0 port to both transmit data and power. The monitor also works with the older USB 2.0, although doing so might negatively affect its performance including brightness and image quality.

If you happen to use one of the newer MacBooks or other laptops that are only equipped with USB-C ports, there is also the Asus MB169C+ which is the USB-C version of the MB169B+. Similarly, in case you do not require the monitor to be high resolution, you can also get the cheaper Asus MB168B which more or less identical to the MB169B+ in all other aspects.

Overall, while the MB169B+ and other products in the series mentioned above (check prices on Amazon) are not the cheapest ones in this article, the fact that they offer generous 15.6 inches of screen space combined with their low weight and thin profile make them an ideal portable monitor to increase your productivity on the road if you have the necessary space in your luggage.

AOC e1659Fwu: Best Budget Portable Monitor

The AOC e1659Fwu is the cheapest portable monitor on this list (check price on Amazon) and is a good option if you have tighter budget or are looking to buy your first USB monitor to see whether it is something that will actually fit into your workflow.

While some Amazon buyers reported the monitor working good at first before breaking after a relatively short period of time, most of the buyers seem to be satisfied with the product given its low purchase price.

As for the monitor itself, it has a 15.6-inch screen with a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, and so it does not offer full HD quality. Also, it weighs around 1.35 kilograms (3 pounds) which means its one of the heavier monitors on this list, although it is still within reason.

The AOC e1659Fwu comes with a built-in stand, and it connects to computers using a single USB 3.0 port through which it both receives the necessary power and video input.

If you prefer an HD monitor, you can pay a bit more and get the i1659Fwux. Alternatively, if you want a larger screen (although 15.6-inch is as large as I would personally travel with), you can get the 17.3-inch AOC e1759Fwu.

GeChic 1303i: Best Portable Touchscreen Monitor

The main thing that sets the GeChic 1303i apart from the three other portable monitors on this list, besides its higher price (check on Amazon) is the fact that it features a touchscreen which can be useful depending on the tasks you need to do.

Weighing a bit less than 1 kilogram (2 pounds) and having a 13.3-inch screen, this monitor is perfectly sized for travel. If you prefer larger screen even at the cost of bulkier size, you can take a look at the monitor’s 15.6-inch version, the GeChic 1503i.

The downside of having the touchscreen is the fact that it makes the monitor a bit more difficult to connect to your computer than the previous two in this list. That is because to connect it to your laptop you will need a USB port for touch function, another one for power (this could also be a power bank or wall plug), and an HDMI or VGA port for video.

Another downside of this monitor is the fact that it does not come with a built-in stand. However, you can easily get an external one, and so, the GeChic 1303i is one of the best choices if you are looking for a travel-sized touchscreen monitor.

Lilliput UM-70: Best Small Portable Monitor

Given that the Lilliput UM-70 is a 7-inch monitor, it is in most cases not an item to consider if you tend to travel with a laptop and a tablet that you can use as a second monitor. However, if you do not have and do not need a tablet but want an external screen larger than a smartphone, this might be the solution.

While this is the most portable of the screens on this list, its use is quite limited. However, if you want to work on your main screen and watch a video or chat on a secondary screen than this might be a reasonable option for you.

The monitor has a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels and comes with a built-in stand. The downside of it is that, in spite of not having a touchscreen, it requires two USB ports to work. And so, while the Lilliput UM-70 might be an affordable way (check price on Amazon) to add a small extra monitor to your laptop, I would also consider getting an entry-level tablet instead.

Two Methods to Extend Your Laptop Screen on the Road

As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, there are basically two ways through which you can add a second screen to your laptop during your travels without having to carry around a normal bulky monitor which not only takes up too much space but also requires access to a power outlet.

The first of the two methods is using one of your other portable devices such as tablet or smartphone as the second screen. To do so, you will require one of the many apps such as Duet Display that were designed for that purpose.

The main advantage of this method is obvious, it does not take up any extra space at all since you already likely travel with your tablet if you have one. And, if not, you undoubtedly travel with a smartphone in your pocket. Besides that, your “portable monitor” will be useful even in situations without a laptop.

Using your tablet (and especially smartphone) as a second screen also comes with a big disadvantage, though – the amount of “screen real estate” you will be able to gain by connecting them to your laptop.

And so, while the method might be useful when you need another person to look at your screen simultaneously with you or when you just want a chat window constantly open without it being in your main workspace, the second method – using a dedicated travel monitor like one of the four mentioned earlier – is way better if you are looking to boost your productivity.

Summary

If you are just looking for a way to slightly increase the screen space available to you then using an app to turn your iPad, iPhone or Android tablet or smartphone into a second screen might be a good and cost-effective option.

However, if you are seriously looking at using a second monitor on the road to increase your productivity then getting one of the portable monitors is the better way. While they will take up a bit more space than your iPad, you will soon get used to the comfort of having lots of “screen real estate” even in hotel rooms thousands of miles away from your home.

And, if you don’t know where to start looking for your new portable monitor, perhaps, start with one of the four below:

Portable MonitorBudgetSizeResolutionWeightDetails
Asus MB169B+$$15.6"1920 x 10801.8 lbs
(800 g)
Check on Amazon
AOC e1659Fwu$15.6"1366 x 7683 lbs
(1.35 kg)
Check on Amazon
GeChic 1303i$$$13.3"1920 x 10802 lbs
(1 kg)
Check on Amazon
Lilliput UM-70$7"800 x 4801 lbs
(500 g)
Check on Amazon

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