Despite being a relatively new invention, portable monitors are rapidly increasing in popularity.
A touchscreen portable monitor is an external monitor you can connect with your laptop, phone, television, or gaming console— basically, anything shooting a video signal. But the best part is that you can take these compact monitors anywhere you go.
Hence, portable monitors are perfect for school, business travel, vacationing, and countless other activities.
If this is your first time purchasing a touchscreen portable monitor, you might feel intimidated in the face of countless options. Between various styles, models, and sizes, there are a lot of things to consider before you finalize your purchase.
But fear not, as this post will walk you through some essential tips to ensure you find the perfect touchscreen portable monitor for your needs.
Screen size is often the foremost thing people consider when buying any display device, and a touchscreen portable monitor is no different.
Portable monitors are generally smaller than your average laptop or desktop computer monitor. This is by design since these external display devices are built to be compact, portable, and lightweight.
As such, portable monitor screen sizes are, on average, 15 to 16 inches. However, screen sizes can range anywhere from 7 inches to 24 inches. The size you ultimately pick depends upon how you plan on using the portable monitor.
If you’re using a portable monitor purely as a second display (like for gaming or giving presentations), then a larger size screen will suit your needs. Keep in mind, though, that large screens are more susceptible to damage, especially if you try to travel with them.
However, medium-to-small-sized screens are better for students or frequent travelers, as they’re more lightweight, compact, and portable.
One of the biggest selling points of portable monitors is the “plug and play” action. You can connect them to anything shooting a video signal via an adapter, and you’ll have a second display up and running without any reconfigurations or adjustments. For example, you can connect them to your phone, laptop, gaming device, PC, or television— the possibilities are endless.
As such, a good touchscreen portable monitor will have not only one but a plethora of connection options. The most common connection ports in portable laptops are:
- Mini HDMI
- Mini DisplayPort
- Micro USB
At the same time, you should check the available connections on your device and whether they are compatible with the connection options on the portable monitor. For example, some Macbook Pro models don’t have HDMI.
Some portable monitors also offer wireless connections. However, they aren’t as reliable as wired connections and drain the monitor’s battery faster.
Response Time and Refresh Rate
These are two very different but ultimately interconnected things. Response time is the time it takes your monitor to shift from one color to another, given in milliseconds (ms). The average response time for monitors is 10 ms, although LCD, AMOLED, and OLED screens usually have an even lower response time. Some even go as low as 1 ms.
On the other hand, the refresh rate is the number of times a screen displays a new image every second, given in Hertz (Hz). Most portable monitors use a refresh rate of 60 Hz. For example, unlike response time, a higher refresh rate is generally better as; more images per second leads to smoother and lag-free videos.
These two factors are inconsequential if you’re using your new portable monitor for web surfing, editing photos, or writing emails and assignments. Hence, the only display-related spec you should worry about is resolution (discussed later).
But if you’re using it for gaming, you need to pay extra attention to the response time and refresh rate. A low response time and high refresh rate will give you the ultimate smooth and lag-free display to bag the win.
Speaking of the display, don’t expect too much out of your touchscreen portable monitor. That’s not to say the picture or video quality isn’t going to be good, only that it probably won’t be as good as your mainstream monitor display, television, or phone.
This shouldn’t be that big an issue if you’re doing basic projects or work requiring simple programs. Most portable monitors offer 1920 ✕ 1080 FHD resolution, which is more than enough for these low-demanding activities.
But if you need 4K UHD resolution for things like gaming or watching a movie, those options are also available. But, of course, they’ll be heavier on your pockets than FHD or HD options.
Internal Speakers Vs. Headphones
By and large, touchscreen portable monitors lack built-in speakers.
Some high-end ones have built-in speakers, which are good enough for gaming or meetings. However, these built-in speakers don’t hold a candle to external speakers, especially for a movie night. So if you want a fully immersive audio experience, you must use headphones or external speakers.
Hence, high-quality built-in speakers are a welcome bonus but not a requirement. However, there’s no wiggle room when it comes to headphone jacks.
Since your portable monitor might or might not have good built-in speakers, it should at least have a standard 3.5 mm headphone jack.
Your portable monitor should have a built-in battery so you can easily use it away from an electrical outlet. After all, it wouldn’t be a “portable” monitor if it’s tethered to a socket most of the time.
Any lithium-ion battery with a minimum 5000 milliamps per hour (mAH) rating is the benchmark.
Additionally, it would be useful if the monitor could be charged using a USB-C cable. This way, you can always charge it using your laptop in case of emergencies.
The biggest selling point about portable external monitors is their portability. In other words, portable monitors should be compact enough to take anywhere with you, be it a coffee shop around the corner or a business trip halfway across the world.
Here are some factors that determine portability:
- Size— a screen size of fewer than 10 inches is more travel-friendly, but it might be too small for your specific requirements. Hence, you’ll have to make a compromise.
- Weight— Most touchscreen portable monitors are only a few pounds heavy. Some can be just a little over 1 lb.
- Durability— Since portable monitors spend a lot of time in bags and suitcases, they need to be durable. Check the material to ensure your monitor won’t dent, crack, or break.
Furthermore, the monitor should be travel-friendly in other ways as well.
Since your access to utilities is limited while you’re traveling, your monitor should have universal compatibility. With multiple connections and power options, you will always have a fallback. Plus, you won’t have to carry around long, bulky cables.
At the same time, your portable laptop should be as plug-and-play as possible, making it easy to use when you’re traveling.
There are some add-on accessories you can get to enhance the efficiency, ease of use, and performance of your portable monitor. These include:
- Cover/ stand— in most cases, the cover of a portable monitor doubles as a stand. Hence, if you’re already getting a cover, you don’t need to purchase a separate stand. However, a separate stand is undeniably sturdier and supportive.
- Speakers— if you want a fully immersive audio experience, you should invest in external speakers.
- Stylus— a stylus can help you improve the accuracy of typing, drawing, and editing. Moreover, it will keep your screen clear of oils from your fingers.
- Microfiber cloth— always carry a microfiber cloth to wipe down your screen without damaging it.
- Multiport adapter— a multiport adapter will ensure that you are able to utilize all the connectivity options of your portable monitor without carrying too many cables.
You would think that maintaining a touchscreen portable monitor is going to be easier than a regular monitor. But you’d be wrong.
A touchscreen monitor becomes dirty faster than a regular monitor, thanks to oils and other contaminants on your fingers. If you use your portable monitor regularly, you will likely have to wipe it down at the end of every day.
But be careful; you can’t use just any fabric on the sensitive touchscreen. Instead, use a microfiber cloth to wipe down the screen without leaving any lint or smudge marks.
A touchscreen portable monitor can be pretty costly up-front, and any subsequent repairs and other issues will be expensive, too.
So make sure that your purchase comes with a good warranty. The minimum warranty you should aim for is one year, but 2-3 years is preferable.
A touchscreen portable monitor is a game-changer for anyone with a lot of daily screen time, be it students, gamers, video editors, or office workers.
But before you set your heart on a particular model, take a few things under consideration first. This includes screen size, connectivity, display, audio, battery, and overall portability.
Moreover, keep in mind that portable monitors are priced according to their utility and value. In other words, they can be costly. But in the grand scheme of things, this is an investment you won’t regret making.