Display monitors have come a long way since they first became available for personal use. The technology transformed from simple Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) monitors displaying colorless vector graphics to the modern Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) monitors running high-resolution graphics.
And now, we have portable touch screen monitors.
A portable touchscreen monitor is an external display device you can connect with anything shooting a video signal, including your phone, laptop, television, gaming console, etc. But the most important part is that you can bring this small, lightweight, portable monitor anywhere you go.
Hence, portable monitors are like regular monitors, except you can take them to school, work, or even vacation. Of course, there are some other key differences as well.
So what are these differences? Moreover, which option is better: a portable touchscreen monitor or a regular desktop monitor? Let’s compare several important aspects to determine which comes out on top.
When it comes to any display device, screen size is usually the first thing people consider. Furthermore, screen size is one of the most defining features of a portable monitor; the screen of a portable external monitor, by definition, needs to be smaller than your average desktop computer.
On average, the screen size of a portable monitor is 15 inches. However, screen sizes can range from 7 inches to 24 inches.
On the other hand, the standard desktop monitor screen size is considerably larger at 22 inches. However, a large desktop monitor can be well over 30 inches. Some curved desktop monitors can even go up to 50 inches!
There’s no clear winner here since your choice of screen size depends upon your individual needs and preferences. But in terms of portability, smaller screens clearly trump larger, bulkier options.
Connectivity refers to the various hardware ports that allow multiple devices to connect to your monitor.
Traditionally, flatscreen desktop monitors have one power cable and one data cable. The role and limitations of a power cable will be discussed further on.
The data cable is responsible for carrying image data from your image source to the monitor. The type of data cable varies according to the connection type supported by your video card and monitor. Older connections include VGA and DVI, whereas newer connections include USB-C, HDMI, and DP (DisplayPort).
However, the number of available connections is usually limited to one or two on each monitor.
On the other hand, portable monitors are designed to support various connections. No matter your video source, be it your laptop, phone, computer, television, or gaming console, you should be able to hook it up with a standard portable monitor.
In addition to image data, many portable monitors allow for the exchange of audio data through audio jacks. In contrast, desktop monitors don’t have any direct audio input or output.
Portability refers to how easy it is to carry the monitor with you from place to place. Obviously, desktop monitors are not portable at all; they’re bulky, require a lot of external hardware, and are always tethered to a power supply.
On the other hand, the portability factor is the biggest selling point of portable touchscreen monitors. These monitors are small, lightweight, and handy enough to carry with you wherever you go.
Several features of portable monitors work together to increase their portability factor. Apart from being small, these monitors are also incredibly lightweight, with some models weighing just a little over 1 lb.
Furthermore, portable monitors are travel-friendly in other ways as well.
As discussed in the previous section, most portable monitors have multiple connections and power options. Hence, you’ll be able to hook up your monitor wherever you go. Moreover, portable monitors are pretty plug-and-play, making them easy to use when traveling.
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When it comes to image and video quality, flatscreen desktop monitors take the cake. But that’s not to say the image quality of a portable monitor won’t be good.
The technology for desktop monitors, phones, laptops, and televisions is way more advanced than that of portable monitors. Plus, they’re able to utilize a lot of external graphics hardware to really hone the image quality. Moreover, traditional desktop monitors are also highly specialized devices; they don’t need to account for multiple image sources.
On the other hand, portable monitors are very compact and don’t rely on any external graphics hardware. Moreover, they accommodate a variety of uses, from low-demanding activities like school projects or making presentations to high-demanding activities like gaming. Hence, they’re not specialized to emphasize graphics in the same way that, say, a gaming desktop monitor does.
With that said, even the low-end portable touchscreen monitors now come with really impressive display and image quality specs. Most portable monitors offer at least 1920 ✕ 1080 FHD resolution, which is more than enough for these low-demanding activities.
Many high-end options also come with 4K UHD resolution. Moreover, they also have benchmark refresh rates and response times, making them ideal for gaming or watching a movie.
Audio and Sound
Both portable and desktop monitors lack high-quality built-in speakers.
However, some high-end portable monitors do have built-in speakers. These speakers are sufficient for things like gaming or meetings. However, the sound quality of these built-in speakers doesn’t come close to external speakers, especially for movie nights.
Hence, you will benefit from a good pair of headphones or external speakers regardless of the type of monitor. It follows that an appropriate headphone jack is a must.
Unlike desktop monitors, portable monitors come with a standard 3.5 mm audio jack. You can use this port to connect to your headphones or external speakers for a fully immersive audio experience.
Flatscreen desktop monitors draw their power directly from an electrical outlet via a power cable. Hence, the moment you disconnect this power cable, your monitor will go blank. This is another reason why desktop monitors are non-portable; they must always be connected to a power source.
On the other hand, portable monitors come with built-in lithium-ion batteries. Hence, you can use it even when you’re far away from an electrical outlet or don’t have reliable access to electricity.
However, a battery-powered portable monitor can sometimes be a nuisance as well. You’ll have to make sure that your monitor is fully charged before leaving the house. If your battery runs out while you’re out and about, it would be pretty difficult to find a power outlet.
But if you maintain your portable monitor’s battery by keeping it charged sufficiently, you won’t run into this problem too often. Even if you do, you can always use a USB-C cable to charge your monitor through your laptop as a short-term solution.
A flatscreen desktop monitor won’t give you so many fallback options. As soon as you cut off the power, the monitor won’t be of any use to you.
Productivity and Multitasking
A desktop monitor is great for personal use. You can use it for things like gaming, streaming, watching movies, and so on. Indeed, there’s no denying that you can get a lot done with a flatscreen desktop monitor.
But the utility of a desktop monitor ends when you leave your house.
For on-the-go work, you need something that is more portable and versatile. Compared to desktop monitors, portable touchscreen monitors are ideal for people who wish to multitask and boost their productivity while they’re out and about.
Finally, the difference in price points is worth mentioning. Low-end portable monitors start at around $150, which is higher compared to a desktop monitor with the same specs, if not better. Specialty portable monitors can get more expensive, ranging from $300 to $500.
You could argue that a flatscreen desktop monitor offers better specs at the same price points. Indeed, desktop monitors enable high-fidelity display with better resolutions, refresh rates, color accuracy, etc. The cherry on top is that desktop monitors have a much broader price range, starting as low as $50 and going all the way up to $1500.
However, portable monitors are swiftly catching up in terms of their value for money. As the technology advances, more and more portable monitors are starting to offer better image quality. Some models, such as the Desklab touchscreen portable monitor, boast 4K (UHD) resolution at relatively low price points.
The Final Verdict
Considering all the points of comparison, which option comes out on top?
We’ve seen how flat screen portable monitors are arguably better in terms of image quality and price points. In other aspects, though, portable monitors have a clear edge over flatscreen monitors.
Portable monitors are far more versatile; they accommodate a wide range of activities and can connect to almost all basic display devices, like smartphones and televisions. Moreover, they are also far more travel-friendly since they’re extremely lightweight and battery-powered. They also require minimal external hardware, such as data cables, power cables, keyboards, and mouse.
So if your work requires you to be on the move, a portable touchscreen monitor wins by a landslide.