Best Rated USB Portable Screen Reviews:

A Wider Point of View

Multi-monitor setups are pretty common these days. In the past only certain professionals had any use for them, but now most people are using laptops; plugging in a larger additional screen when home is almost a requirement for comfortable productivity.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have that same additional desktop real estate when out and about with your MacBook? If you have one of the latest models of MacBook that sports a USB-C port or two, then you are in luck. There’s a new generation of USB portable monitors that take advantage of the speed and power the new USB standard provides. This means you don’t need additional power and there’s no lag or bandwidth issues to speak of. These new screens are incredibly thin and light. Usually it’s pretty easy to slip them into the same bag you use to carry your MacBook.

Before we go any further, you should know that recent iPad models with iPadOS can work as a touch-enabled additional USB screen. So if you own one of those iPad models with the “Sidecar” feature, you don’t really have a reason to buy one of these, unless you don’t want to lose the use of your iPad while using your MacBook.

With that public service announcement out of the way, let’s look at what’s on offer for space-starved road warriors.

ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC 15.6″ Full HD IPS USB Type-C Portable Eye Care Monitor

In my search for attractive options in the USB screen market, I have run into plenty of brands that I have never heard of, and surprisingly few well-known ones. So this ZenScreen from Asus is the exception rather than the rule, it seems.

While I could not see mention of Mac compatibility explicitly, plenty of users are using the ZenScreen with MacBook Pro laptops, so it seems to be a good choice. While Asus has designed this screen to go with their own laptops, the black and brushed metal finish will look just fine next to a MacBook. It’s the ironic result of other premium laptop makers subtly following Apple’s design language, and that plays to our advantage here.

This is part of the “eye care” range of screens, which means that it has flicker-free backlighting and cuts down on the blue light that’s apparently frying our retinas. This monitor is absolutely tiny. It weighs 780g and is only 8mm thick, so there’s no way you’ll struggle to fit it into the average travel bag. One little cable is all you need to get things working. You can use this monitor with a USB-A port as well, but then you must use a machine that supports the DisplayLink driver. There is a Mac version of the driver, so if you do have a Mac that only has USB-A, this is still viable.

Lepow 15.6 Inch Full HD 1080P USB Type-C Computer Display

Here is one of the first brands on our list that I personally have never heard of. Yep, this is a “Lepow”, which sounds like a comic book sound effect from France. Hopefully the product will also pack a punch, so let’s find out.

This is a 1080p 15.6″ panel using IPS panel, which means you can expect great viewing angles and color reproduction. Like the Asus, this is another “eye care” monitor that cuts out flicker and the light frequencies most likely to cause eye strain. I wouldn’t use this for any sort of color-sensitive application.

One big advantage of the Lepow is the inclusion of not only a Type-C port, but also a Mini HDMI port. By using an adapter, you can connect this to any device that outputs to HDMI, which includes consoles as well. If you want to use HDMI, you’ll have to use the included USB-C to A cable for power, so do keep that in mind.

The screen also features built-in stereo speakers, which is perfect in cases where you want to connect with something other than a laptop and need audio. If the built-in speakers are too weedy, you can connect headphones or an external speaker to the screen using the 3.5 mm jack.

The Lepow comes with a cover stand and supports both portrait and landscape mode. Honestly, I’m having a hard time coming up with any negatives here.

Users report great compatibility and satisfying picture quality. The price is also incredibly good. The only real complaint that I have seen from some users is that the included cover stand is a bit flimsy, although still functional. If this is in your budget, I can’t think of a reason not to buy it.

Virzen 15.6″ IPS Super Thin Display

Now that the Lepow has impressed me, I’m feeling more generous towards niche brands.

Virzen is off to a good start with a 15.6″ screen using IPS technology, which is better for color reproduction and viewing angles. Since this offers 100% of the sRGb space, it’s possible to use it as a photo or video editing monitor. You also get a full 1080p image.

It has a stereo speaker setup if you want to connect a console or other device that needs audio. There’s an HDMI port but, interestingly, Virzen claims you can use a Nintendo Switch via USB-C, so it acts as a dock. I’m a little wary of that claim though, since there have been serious issues with third-party docks. Still, we are looking at this screen as a MacBook accessory and so both USB-C and HDMI MacBook users should be covered.

If you are using it through USB-C, it also has an OTG port so you can connect an external mouse and keyboard. So the Virzen can also act as a mobile docking solution of sorts.

When it comes to the actual experience of using the screen, users seem pretty darn happy. Just be aware that although it comes with a minimal stand, there is no screen cover.

Duex Pro Portable Monitor

The Duex Pro portable commands a significantly higher price than most of the other options here. So I immediately wondered what was so special about this screen that it can get away with asking so much.

Even worse, this screen is smaller than the standard 15.6″ panel dimensions we are used to. Since that is a common midrange laptop screen size, plenty of USB panels use them. Smaller, weird sizes like this cost more because they don’t enjoy the same volume discounts. Although, this is still a 1080p panel so you’ll get a crisper image thanks to tighter pixel density.

The Duex is more than just another USB screen. This is actually the result of a Kickstarter that aimed to make something special. The big claim to fame is how you use and mount this monitor. Their ingenious solution attaches to the back of the laptop monitor. It sits on the side of your laptop, which has the major advantage of not requiring any table space. You could use this on your lap or on a tiny coffee shop table.

If you have enough USB-C ports (although you can use USB-A with DisplayLink) it’s possible to buy two of these and mount them on either side of your laptop for a triple monitor display on the go. But I suspect you’d have to use two native USB-C Thunderbolt ports to get triple-monitor setups to work on a MacBook.

The Duex is also special because of how rugged it is, having been designed from materials meant to stand up to daily abuse. If you have the money, this is an amazing product. It’s not going to work well with anything smaller than a 15″ MacBook, but if you have one of the big boy MacBooks, start reaching for that credit card.

ASUS MB168B 15.6″ WXGA 1366×768 USB Portable Monitor

This is Asus’s second showing on this list, but this time with a product that comes in at a lower price point and with a more modest spec sheet. In exchange for asking less money, you get a lower resolution. 768p displays were pretty common on entry-level laptops a few years ago, but are pretty rare these days. It’s not a bad resolution per se, but I would find reading small text or trying to any sort of fine work on it impossible in the age of retina displays.

This monitor is perfect for having something like YouTube, Slack, or your email client on the side. Using it as your browser window would also be a good application.

Since this is a TN panel, colors will be relatively washed out and not at all accurate. However, TN panels are cheap and fast, as evidenced by the 75 Hertz refresh rate on offer here.

The next most important thing you should know is that this is not a USB-C device. Since it uses USB-A connectors, you need to use the DisplayLink driver on Mac for it to work.

It’s a good quality device at a very reasonable price. If you use it for the right purpose and don’t mind the downgrade in visual quality, it’s anything but a waste of money. However, if your budget can stretch further I’d rather you buy something a little higher up the food chain.

Rock Space Capacitive Touch USB-C Monitor

Welcome to the rock space! I have no idea what that is, but they have made this monitor and it looks pretty good, so let’s give it the benefit of the doubt.

The Rock Space monitor may not be from a well-known brand, but it certainly does not come with a modest price. So I expect it to wow me with features and specs since it expects us to shell out a significant chunk of change for the privilege of owning one.

One of the main reasons this 1080p, IPS monitor has some extra dollars stuffed into the asking price is the inclusion of a touch layer. Yes, this has a 10-point capacitive touch feature similar to what you’d find on an iPad. Hilariously, the product specs actually list the iPad models with USB-C as compatible. I don’t know if the touch input works when connected to an iPad, but the idea of a dual-screen iPad is pretty weird.

This screen has a color gamut of 89% of sRGB, which might be good enough for some color work, but for most people simply means that colors on this screen are pretty darn good. If you don’t have a USB-C device then you can still use the mini HDMI port along with power via USB.

The makers explicitly say that only devices with USB-C with Thunderbolt 3 will support touch input. The 2018 MacBook line is explicitly listed. Based on the feedback from the many people who have bought one of these, it lives up to its price tag. However, unless that touch functionality is absolutely a deal-maker for you, you could probably get a similarly nice picture from a less expensive alternative.

Szoon 13.3 Inch 2K Portable Gaming Monitor

While many of the monitors we’ve seen so far mention gaming as one of their uses, the Szoon is the only one to have the specs that could justify such a claim. Of course, if you are gaming on your Mac, you’d be better off just using the built-in main monitor. However, the specs that make the Szoon good for portable gaming also make it good for other reasons.

First off, this is a relatively small panel. At only 13.3″ it’s not tiny, but it’s significantly less spacious than the 15.6″ size, which seems to be the norm. However, in terms of desktop real-estate, you get more for you money. With a resolution of 2560×1440, it’s a half-step to 4K. This is becoming a popular resolution for gamers as a significant step above 1080p, but as a Mac user it’s intriguing because it provides a high-resolution secondary display in a compact form factor. This is an IPS panel with a wide color gamut, 8-bit color, and built-in speakers. That makes it great for some creative work. Use it as a preview monitor in Final Cut Pro, for example.

Then, if you are also a gamer, you can hook up the device of your choice and enjoy this as an excellent gaming display. The bottom line is that if you care very much about that super-crispy 2K resolution, this is one of the best choices on the market that I know of.

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