Portable Monitor’s Buyer’s Guide [2023]

edited August 2023 in PC Tech

Working remotely or on the go has skyrocketed, and having the flexibility to set up your workspace anywhere is essential. While external monitors are a staple in office environments, there's a compelling alternative: portable monitors. These sleek, lightweight screens provide valuable extra-screen real estate, allowing you to work more efficiently wherever you are. 

Although image quality may not yet rival traditional desktop monitors, portable monitors excel as secondary screens for multitasking. Most portable monitors feature USB-C connectivity, enabling power and display capabilities through a single cable. Their plug-and-play nature without requiring a dedicated AC adapter ensures seamless device connection across various devices:

  • Laptops  
  • Smartphones 
  • Gaming consoles 
  • Tablets

With a portable monitor in your arsenal, you can enjoy the convenience of a larger screen wherever you work or play. Our comprehensive 2023 buyers' guide will help you choose the right one.

How to Buy the Right Portable Monitor 

Multitasking is now a necessity. Juggling multiple windows on a small screen can be challenging. Portable monitors increase your available screen real estate and boost your productivity. They act as external second screens designed to be lightweight and portable, making them ideal for on-the-go use. To ensure you select the best portable monitor for your needs, consider the following 8 factors:

1) Size & Portability 

If it's heavy or doesn't fit your bag, it's not right for you. Portable monitors weigh 1.65 to 2.3 lbs.

Most portable monitors measure between 12 and 17 inches diagonally, which often matches the size of your laptop. If you use your portable monitor for light tasks and simple web browsing, anything over 17 inches can feel oversized. You may be better off buying an external stationary monitor.

2) Screen Resolution 

Screen resolution is crucial when you choose a portable monitor. A Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution is perfect for everyday tasks such as:

  • Web browsing 
  • Google Docs 
  • Streaming videos

However, design professionals may require a higher Ultra HD 4K (3840 x 2160) resolution for more detailed work - but the impact of higher resolution isn't as noticeable on smaller screens.

Consider In-Plane Switching (IPS) display panels that deliver sharper images and faster response times. IPS allows sharing your screen at wider viewing angles without sacrificing image quality. 

3) Power & Ports 

Portable monitors offer 2 power options:

  1. USB-C Ports: are now standard for connecting portable monitors to various devices. Monitors powered by the connected device reduce the number of chargers in your setup but will drain the battery faster. 
  2. Internal monitor batteries: are heavier but ensure longer monitor and connected device usage time.

Consider a model with extended battery life if you frequently work remotely without power outlet access. Integrated speakers can be valuable for gamers or streamers. However, even without them, you can still enjoy audio through your device or headphones. Some monitors also feature HDMI ports for added versatility. Consider your usage habits and prioritize the features that best suit your needs.

4) Color Accuracy  

Color accuracy is crucial for editing video or photo work if you're a creative professional. For precise color reproduction, look for monitors with a high color gamut coverage with certifications:

  • 100% sRGB  
  • Adobe RGB 
  • DisplayHDR™ True Black 400

5) Refresh Rate and Adaptive Sync 

Gamers require higher refresh rates (120Hz or more) and adaptive sync technologies to ensure smooth, tear-free gameplay like:

  • AMD FreeSync  
  • NVIDIA G-Sync

6) Touchscreen 

Touchscreen functionality can enhance productivity and user experience, especially when working with specific media apps. Quickly swipe, zoom, and drag or combine with digital whiteboard software to present your work interactively. However, this added convenience often comes at a higher cost.

7) Build Quality and Stand 

A well-built monitor with a durable stand is vital for on-the-go use. Look for foldable cases that act as protective covers and double as a stand.

8) Budget 

Consider the price range of portable monitors, as they vary greatly. Assess your budget and seek one that offers the optimal value for your specific needs.

9 Portable Monitor Uses: Expanding Possibilities 

As technology advances, the demand for portable displays is rising. Here are nine ways portable monitors can enhance your life and work:

  1. Enhance productivity: Portable monitors increase screen real estate, reducing task switching time and improving workflow efficiency. More screen space increases your primary task focus and lowers stress levels. 
  2. Dual-monitor setup: Portable monitors act as a second screen which helps programmers and other professionals who need multiple screens to work effectively to streamline their workflow. 
  3. Travel: Portable monitors are perfect for frequent travelers who need to work on the road or in remote locations, offering a lightweight and compact display option. Throw it in your backpack. 
  4. Preview screen for creators: Portable monitors connected to cameras provide a larger, high-quality display for photographers and videographers to preview their work immediately. 
  5. Improved presentations: A portable monitor adds professionalism to meetings without lugging around bulky equipment. Touchscreen functionality enables interactive, collaborative content creation and engagement.  
  6. Mobile devices scaled up: Pair a portable monitor with your smartphone for a full-sized experience. Combine with a Bluetooth keyboard and productivity apps to transform your phone into a mobile idea station. 
  7. Enhanced gaming: Portable monitors are ideal for gamers who want to enjoy their favorite games on the go, whether on a laptop, console, or smartphone. 
  8. Full-sized entertainment: Portable monitors offer an enhanced mobile viewing experience for movies, perfect for road trips, camping, or as an alternative to in-flight entertainment. 
  9. Expanding specialized device displays: With the proper adaptors, portable monitors can upgrade device displays, from medical sensors to cashier counters, meeting users' increasing expectations for clarity and quality.

3 Best Portable Monitors from Acer

Here are our recommendations for the best portable monitor in 2023:

Acer PM1: Best Value Portable Monitor 

Meet the Acer PM1, a 15.6-inch ultra-portable monitor designed for those constantly on the move. Weighing just 0.97 kg and 2 cm thin, it's perfect for presentations or as a secondary screen on the go. 

PM1 delivers Full HD 1080p resolution for vivid colors and sharp details in a 16:9 aspect ratio, while IPS panel technology ensures consistent colors at wide viewing angles up to 170°.

With single-cable simplicity, PM1 connects to your device via a USB-C™ cable, simultaneously sharing the display, transferring data, and supplying power. With a 5 ms response time and ergonomic tilt, this monitor includes two speakers and multiple connectivity options.

For those seeking a lightweight, portable monitor with vibrant visuals and a clutter-free design, the Acer PM1 is an excellent choice.

Acer PM1 Specs: 

  • Display Size: 15.6" Widescreen Full HD 
  • Panel: IPS 
  • Screen Resolution: 1920 x 1080 
  • Weight: 1.65 lb 
  • Power & ports: Device-powered, 2 USB-C ports

Acer PM8 Portable Monitor: Ultra-Portable 4K Experience

The Acer PM8 combines stunning 4K visuals, ultra-portability, and intuitive touchscreen functionality. At just under 1 kg and 0.8 cm thin, this 15.6-inch monitor is perfect for on-the-go use or as a secondary display for presentations. 

A 10-point multi-touch screen allows seamless navigation without a mouse - easily zoom, swipe, rotate, and drag.

It brings movies, games, and images to life with rich colors and fine details in a 16:9 aspect ratio. The OLED panel offers high contrast, vibrant colors, and wide viewing angles. DCI-P3 100% color space and DisplayHDR™ True Black 400 certification ensure vivid hues and enhanced contrast.

With a mini-HDMI and two USB Type-C ports, the PM8 will connect to your:

  • Nintendo Switch 
  • DSLRs 
  • Smartphones 
  • Laptops

For those seeking an ultra-portable 4K monitor, the Acer PM8 is an outstanding choice.

Acer PM8 Specs: 

  • Display Size: 15.6" 
  • Panel: OLED 
  • Screen Resolution: 3840 X 2160 
  • Weight: 1kg 
  • Power & ports: Device-powered, 2 USB-C ports, mini-HDMI port 

SpatialLabs View: Best 3D Portable Monitor 

Acer's SpatialLabs View redefines the portable monitor experience by offering a truly immersive 3D journey without special glasses. Gamers and creatives can dive into a new world of content and multimedia brought to life in 3D reality. 

The monitor utilizes advanced lenticular display technology for glasses-free stereoscopic 3D, providing 2K - 2x2K resolution (2K per eye). This technology delivers slightly different perspectives to each eye, resulting in impressive depth perception and a stunning 3D effect. When switched to 2D mode, the monitor boasts a crystal-clear 4K resolution.

It offers exceptional visuals, a stunning 15.6" 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) display, and 170° x 170° panel technology. Equipped with HDMI and USB 3.0 (15W) inputs, a 30 ms response time, and 323 Nit brightness, the SpatialLabs View is ready to tackle any creative or gaming task.

The sleek display includes an integrated battery, designed with portability in mind, making glasses-free 3D viewing possible wherever you go.

Acer's SpatialLabs View establishes a new benchmark for portable monitors, delivering an unmatched 3D experience that sets it apart from the competition. 

SpatialLabs View Specs: 

  • Display Size: 15.6" 4K UHD 
  • Panel: IPS 
  • Screen Resolution: 3840 X 2160 
  • Weight: 1.54 lbs 
  • Power & ports: Device-powered, 2 x USB and 1 x HDMI

Are Portable Monitors Worth It? 

It all comes down to what you use your computer for, whether being able to multitask is part of your workflow, and the physical space you have available for setup. Most of us find working on a second screen can significantly improve productivity. 

For remote workers and digital nomads, a portable monitor is essential for maintaining productivity while on the move. Whatever your needs or budget, there's a portable monitor out there that's right for you.

Robert is a Taiwan-based writer and digital marketer at iamrobert design. He has a passion for helping people simplify their lives through tech.


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