Portable monitors: What they are and how they work

Portable monitors are easy-to-use, lightweight devices that you can carry anywhere and connect to any electronic device. See their pros and cons.

portable monitor

A gadget that many users don't know about is portable monitors, or if you want to use Greek, portable screens. They help you increase your productivity, without losing the portability of your devices.

These handy devices are small, lightweight, and fit easily into a bag with your laptop to give you a multi-screen setup almost anywhere.

Portable monitors are a great addition to a light desktop setup. You can simply connect the monitor and immediately take advantage of the productivity and other benefits of a multi-monitor system.

What are portable monitors?

Portable monitors are thin, lightweight displays that attach to your computer to act as a dual-screen solution. They are designed to be easily transported with their own folding base that protects them, but also stabilizes them on your desk, serving as extremely useful equipment for increased productivity.

This makes them the best solution for use with mobile devices such as laptops, tablets, game consoles and even mobile phones. They are placed horizontally or vertically, they are touch sensitive and can work both as a mirror of the main screen and as an extended one.

Specifications and features

Each brand and each model has different characteristics. But in general, most are characterized by the following general specifications.

Feature Analysis Remarks
Screen size from 13,3″ to 17,3″ Due to the portability of these monitors, you'll rarely see a screen larger than 17,3″, with most being around 15,6″.
Analysis 1366 x 768 (720P HDTV), 1920 x 1080 (1080P Full HD), 3840 x 2160 (4K). Depending on the screen aspect ratio, exact resolutions may vary slightly.
Refresh rate 60Hz - 300Hz If you plan to use a portable monitor for gaming, make sure you select a high refresh rate to ensure smoother gameplay. For typical productivity tasks, 60Hz is fine.
Brightness 200 – 450 nits The brightness of portable monitors is incomparable to standard desktop monitors. The maximum brightness you'll typically find is 450 nits, while desktop monitors can be 1.000 nits.
Response time 3ms – 16ms
Contrast ratio 800:1 - 100.000:1 The reasons for opposition can vary widely. For the best viewing experience, choose a screen with a higher contrast ratio. The higher the ratio, the "deeper" the blacks.
Touch Mode Yes Usually with a ten-point capacitive touch screen, although there are also non-touch screens, of course cheaper.
Weight 580 – 990 grams The portable monitors are designed to weigh less than one kilogram to ensure that they can be included in a laptop bag without discomforting the user.
Battery No Most don't because of the weight, and draw power from a USB-C, although there are portable displays with a built-in battery.

Compatibility and connectivity

Most portable monitors do not have a built-in battery and thus require a power supply in addition to the signal. All have at least one USB-C port that can transfer signal and current at the same time.

The issue is if, on the other hand, you have a machine that does not have a USB-C video output port but a simple HDMI one. Then you should buy a portable monitor that has, in addition to the USB-C port (which will only be used for power supply), and a second HDMI or Mini-HDMI port.

Most such portable monitors have Mini-HDMI due to thickness reduction. In connection with HDMI in addition to the HDMI to Mini-HDMI connection for the signal, you should also connect a second cable, usually USB-A 3.0 to USB-C for the power of the second monitor.

portable monitor usb

Alternatively, you can connect a standard mobile phone charger to USB-A.

If your device has a USB-C port as a video signal output, it will also carry power, so the connection will be a single cable. In this case, the second mobile screen will have the touch function activated automatically without any other setting. Otherwise you will need to "play" a bit with some settings.

Usefulness of the portable screen

A portable monitor does it perfectly work of a secondary screen. It enables people who like to travel a multitude of benefits such as:

Screen extension : You can connect a portable display and extend your current display. This can boost productivity. For example, you can view a document or guide on one screen and take notes on the other at the same time.

Presentation : If you are an entrepreneur, you can show off your work to others. Not very convenient if your laptop has a small screen. So mobile screens offer a bigger viewing platform for your customers.

Entertainment : Get the most out of a bigger screen when watching movies, TV or playing games.

Other possibilities

Most portable displays take advantage of their lightweight design and can be used in portrait and landscape orientations. This will be quite convenient if you connect them to a mobile phone or if you are a developer, because some apps are better viewed in a portrait orientation environment.

The brightness on mobile screens is not their big advantage, nor do they show properly from a wide viewing angle. Nevertheless, they are satisfactory.

Some have built-in speakers in addition to a touch function.

More generally, if you are looking for a boost in your productivity or need a large screen for your mobile device, a portable monitor might be the solution for you.

However, remember to check the specifications to make sure the monitor fits your requirements. Be careful not to buy a monitor with only one USB-C port when, on the other hand, you only have HDMI for video signal.

The their prices start from 150,00 euros and may reach close to a thousand.

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Written by Dimitris

Dimitris hates on Mondays .....

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