Portable displays that you associate with laptops are not a new phenomenon, but over the years, they have come into their own. Many major monitor manufacturers have at least one in their repertoire, and new models are appearing more regularly than ever. Whether you want to add a second screen to give presentations to small groups, open two programs in full-screen simultaneously, enhance your portable gaming system, or use a stylus, mobile monitors of various sizes, styles and patterns Want to touch your design with are ready to serve.
Why all these panels all of a sudden? The widespread adoption of USB Type-C connectivity—with the ability to transfer power, data, and video over a single cable—has been a godsend for the development of portable displays. They don’t require a dedicated AC adapter for juice (though some do come with one as an option), and many have only one USB-C port that handles all connectivity, though some have HDMI or other connectors. add up.
What Qualifies as a Portable Monitor?
Many small desktop displays can be taken on the road in a pinch, but “true” portable monitors are those that are sold specifically as such. Even they are quite small in size: from 3.5 inches to 22 inches. Portable displays run the gamut from personal, business and general-purpose models to panels for artists and gamers.
The best place for use with a laptop, though, and our focus here is between 12 and 17 inches. Many users confuse their portable display with the screen size of their laptop. But there are a few models on the market in 10 inches (mostly for use with gaming consoles) and 7 inches (for use with Raspberry Pi).
Most portable displays use a stand consisting of a thin but tough plastic board with many grooves or creases on which it folds. At one end is a magnetic stripe, which affixes to the back of the monitor on top of it. Supports the monitor by folding the sheet down the middle, pointing at an angle away from the user. The bottom of the monitor is inserted into a groove, securing it and tilting the device upward. (Some portable displays have multiple grooves, and you can change the tilt angle of the monitor by moving the base to another.)
This foldable stand often doubles as a protective cover for the display when it’s not in use. Some protect the front of the monitor, while others are larger, wraparound that sandwiches the entire monitor.
Another stand design we’ve seen consists of a rigid, flat base with ports to which the screen is attached via hinges. You can set the screen to any angle of your choice by simply tilting it. However, this type is much less common. In addition, some designs use the laptop itself as a support, fastening to its back or side, and sliding or swinging for use.
Although mobile monitors lack the height, pivot, or swivel adjustments of their desktop counterparts, they are so small and light that they are easy to adjust manually. Some monitors can be rotated by hand, although not all stands may support a monitor when in portrait mode. In those cases, you can always stand the monitor against a wall or other surface. Most portable monitors can correct the image automatically, so it’s always on the right, whether you’re in landscape or portrait mode. (Even in those that lack such automatic image rotation, you can change the orientation in the Windows display settings.)
Portable Monitors: Evaluating Screens
When we’re looking at panels for mobile monitors, the main factors we evaluate are screen size, native resolution, brightness range, the technology used by the panel, and the manufacturer’s requirements for color-gamut coverage. Claims.
Many users prefer to use a mobile monitor that has the same screen size and native resolution as the laptop screen they are using. That said, I’ve found these panels to be forgiving and have had no trouble running portable displays that are slightly larger than my laptop’s own screen. Unless you have a mismatch between the screen aspect ratio of a mobile monitor and a laptop (which is almost always the typical 16:9 widescreen ratio), you’re unlikely to experience much trouble matching them.
Native resolutions range from 1,366 by 768 pixels to 3,200 by 1,800 pixels (QHD+) on panels suitable for use with laptops. Most recent laptop-appropriate screens sport a native resolution of 1,920 by 1,080 pixels (aka 1080p, or “Full HD”), but some go higher.
Mobile monitors are dimmer than their desktop counterparts at their maximum brightness levels. What is commonly called brightness is actually brightness or brightness per unit area. Portable monitors tend to cluster around 180 nits (also expressed as “candelas per meter square”) in our testing, even though many are rated between 230 and 300 nits, which is high for typical use. Ok. The highest we’ve measured at this writing is 280 nits.
Monitors that use In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology are generally preferred for general use on vertical-alignment (VA) and twisted-nematic (TN) panels because of their wide off-axis viewing angles and good color accuracy. because of. Many recent mobile monitors are IPS, but there is a catch. When we test for a panel’s color gamut, we first test the sRGB color space, which is the default color space for the Web and many other applications. This color space essentially includes all the colors that can be made by mixing red, green and blue. Most desktop monitors cover at least 95 percent of sRGB, and we’ve seen portable monitors achieve similar coverage. However, since the end of 2017, a group of mobile IPS monitors have shown much more limited overall color coverage (60 to 72 percent of sRGB) and very similar color profiles – with poor red and purple coverage and slightly increased blue. – Indicates greens. Because of their nearly identical “color signature,” we assume that these screens come from the same or similar sources, although they are on monitors made by different manufacturers.
These measured results stand out in our experiential testing, where the red and purple areas in photos and videos look dull and washed out. While screens with this issue are fine for most business and productivity use, they are subpar options for the videophile or photo enthusiast. In our monitor reviews, we include a chromaticity chart that maps our readings against ideal readings for the color space being tested, and provides an analysis of the panel’s color coverage.
power and connectivity
As I mentioned earlier, the mobile-monitor world is undergoing a convergence of power and connectivity thanks to USB Type-C connectivity. Many USB-C ports support both DisplayPort over USB and USB Power Delivery, allowing both data/video and power to flow through the port from a computer over the same USB cable. Most new mobile monitors have at least one USB-C port, and some connect via USB-C only. While this simplicity has its appeal, make sure your laptop’s USB-C port supports data, video, and power transfer, as some early-generation USB-C ports do not. (Thunderbolt 3 ports should also work fine; their functionality includes all USB-C.)
Some mobile monitors use traditional power adapters. This is especially true for models that work with sketch pens and are intended for artists, which are effectively interactive monitors. In a typical configuration, the display draws power through an adapter, while two cables connect to the computer. One is HDMI, to handle the transfer of the image displayed on the device, and the other is USB (via the USB-A port), for recording pen motions made by the user while drawing on the interactive display. HDMI (commonly referred to as mini-HDMI) is also a common port (the most common other than USB-C) on more traditional portable displays.
Some older portable-display models draw their power from the laptop over a separate USB 3.0 connection, but USB-C is on its way to forgo such a connection.
Software, onscreen display and audio
Almost all portable displays are plug-and-play and require no software to operate. Any utility typically supplied via disc and/or download will have specific functions, such as the ability to enable the screen image to remain upright when you switch between landscape and portrait orientations. Sometimes, the display may come with a utility that lets you change monitor settings from your computer screen instead of the secondary panel’s onscreen display (OSD) controls.
The OSD is the monitor’s menu system, which controls user-controllable settings such as brightness, contrast, color level, picture mode, and aspect ratio. It is often organized into several submenus. Although some models include several buttons to use to navigate the OSD, it is more common to have a single button or switch to control it.
In general, audio is not considered with mobile monitors, as these devices lack built-in speakers or audio jacks. Some portable displays (often gaming models) that include speakers are weak in our experience, And are most useful when paired with a portable gaming console or smartphone. When the monitor is connected to the laptop, you can always switch from the display’s speakers to your laptop’s speakers by clicking the speaker icon in the taskbar and turning on your laptop’s audio.
So, which portable monitor should I buy?
Whatever your needs or budget, there is a model that is right for you; The main thing to consider is the primary display panel you will be using it with. Below, see the current best portable displays we’ve tested. We update this story regularly, but for the latest monitor reviews we’ve posted, also check out our monitor product guide.