Once you upgrade your desktop to two or more monitors, it’s tough to go back to one—but lugging them along with your laptop is less than practical. Enter the USB-powered portable monitor, a second monitor you can easily take with you.
These productivity-boosting portables use small, lightweight components and a single USB cable for both video and power, meaning you can take a second screen along with your laptop or Windows tablet with only a little extra room in your bag. They’re especially good for longer trips, where you have time to set up a dedicated workspace and spread out. Here are the best on the market.
Best Overall Portable USB Monitor: HP EliteDisplay S140u ($155)
HP’s entry into the portable monitor market has an excellent combination of size, ergonomics, and features. The integrated tablet-style protector folds out into a tri-fold stand with built-in magnets, in a much more elegant way than older designs from Asus and AOC.
The 14-inch panel uses a 1600×900 resolution, which is a little smaller than some of the competition elsewhere on this list, but is more than serviceable for secondary screen duties. The screen has been tested and confirmed to work with macOS machines, which isn’t a given for these USB-powered monitors and their integrated video drivers. The EliteDisplay makes an excellent travel companion.
Best Portable USB-C Monitor: Asus Zenscreen MB16AC ($230)
If your computer has only USB-C ports to offer, then using an adapter for a screen might present some problems. This Zenscreen design from Asus, one of the newer options on this list, is the solution. It uses USB-C for both ends of the connection, including video and power, and comes with a stand and pen that work with both portrait and landscape orientation—a feature that’s not supported on some other screens.
At 15.6 inches it’s larger than the screen in most modern laptops, but it’s also less than half an inch thick and equipped with a 1080p display panel. Note that, while Asus recommends a USB-C connection, the panel is compatible with older USB 3.0 connections as well.
Best Small Portable USB Monitor: Eleduino 11.6 1080p ($160)
Depending on how portable your setup is, 14 or 15 inches might not be a practical size for a secondary screen. The Eleduino 11.6-inch option crams both a 1080p display and a touchscreen into its diminutive size, though the practicality of the latter will depend on exactly how often you use the touchscreen on your laptop anyway.
The gadget also has an HDMI port and speakers (though it can accept USB-based video and power), so it makes a decent companion for a traveling game console, too. While it lacks an integrated or folding screen—a rather inelegant one is included—it’s the best choice for something a little smaller that’s still useful for expanding your digital workspace.
Best Budget Portable USB Monitor: AOC e1659fwu ($98)
For users whose budgets won’t stretch beyond a hundred bucks, this AOC screen will do in a pinch. It uses the same USB connection for power and video that the other screens on this list do, though its fold-out kickstand isn’t adjustable and its resolution is a rather disappointing 1466×768.
But if all you need is expanded room for emails or browser windows, it can handle it, with a generous 15.6 inches of diagonal space. Note that this budget pick is specifically for the e1659Fwu model: the full HD and USB-C models are more expensive, and bettered by the other options on this list anyway.