Best add-on portable displays for MacBook or iPad | Cult of Mac

Best add-on portable displays for MacBook or iPad


Espresso Display V2
Take an external display with you when you travel. Here are some of the best.
Photo: espresso Displays

External screens for MacBook or iPad aren’t just convenient in the office — they’re also great to use on the go. There are a range of portable external displays on the market, including some with touchscreens.

Here are my recommendations for the best screens ready to go with you to a coffee shop or Paris.

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A portable external display makes you more productive

An external screen makes you more productive when using a MacBook or iPad by increasing the work area. If you can’t imagine using your MacBook without a second screen when you’re in the office, you really should take one with you when you travel.

And iPad Pro and Air owners will find a second screen became much more useful with iPadOS 16. These tablets can now show applications in resizable floating windows on an external display.

And there are some good options on the market. I’m not going to rank them because they all have advantages and drawbacks. Choose the one that best fits your needs.

Espresso Display V2

Espresso Display V2 review
The Espresso Display V2 is a gorgeous external display that’s also a touchscreen.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The 15.6-inch Espresso Display V2 is ready to go with you on a business trip of course, and it’s also very useful in your office because of its built-in touchscreen. Whether at your desk or in a wooded glen, you can connect it to your MacBook and draw or paint directly into your favorite application with the optional stylus.

The resolution is 1080p, which is nearly standard for portable external displays. But the LCD is of excellent quality — the best looking one on this list. It pairs well with a MacBook.

There are a couple of weaknesses. Most notable is cost. The 15.6-inch touch version is $499. A 13.3-inch one with touch support is $439, or one without touch support is $339. And the screen cover and stand are sold separately.

The product is al amazingly thin but very wide, which means it needs a large carrying bag.

As I said, I’m not ranking this list of best portable external displays, but I will say that this is the one that I use.

Buy it from: espresso Displays

Don’t miss my review of the Espresso Display V2.

KYY 15.6-inch 1080P USB-C Portable Monitor

The YKK portable monitor is just the right shape to play HD video.
The YKK portable monitor is just the right shape to play HD video.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Not one to waste time, KYY put the size and resolution of this monitor into its name. My hands-on testing found that screen quality is quite good. Far, far better than LCDs used to be.

You can connect it to your Mac via USB-C or other computers via HDMI. That’s a bonus for Nintendo Switch users.

The casing for KYY’s external monitor is not a wide as Espresso’s. I’ve taken it with me on several trips because, of these two, it fits more easily in my carry-on suitcase. And it comes with a wrap-around protective case that does double duty as a stand.

The list price for the is $169.99, but it’s available now for $130. It’s the lowest-price option on this list.

Buy it from: Amazon

Don’t miss my review of the KYY 15.6-inch 1080P USB-C Portable Monitor.

Arzopa 4K Portable Monitor 15.6″

Arzopa 4K Portable Monitor 15.6"
4K is an option, too.
Photo: Arzopa

Most portable monitors are 1080P, but Arzopa makes one that’s higher resolution. This is another company that doesn’t waste time and puts some of the basic specs in the product name: Arzopa 4K Portable Monitor 15.6″.

It offers both USB-C and HDMI ports, and comes with a protective cover and stand.

The cost is $224 — not unreasonable considering the increase in resolution.

Buy it from: Amazon

Mobile Pixels Trio

Mobile Pixels Trio
Three screens are better than one, especially for MacBooks.
Photo: Mobile Pixels

Rather than your external screen sitting next to your MacBook, the Mobile Pixels makes screens that attach to the notebook. They “float” right beside the Mac’s screen in use, then slide behind it when you’re on the move. The maker calls them “extenders.”

They’re intended for use when there’s limited desktop space, and the arrangement makes glancing back and forth between the displays easy.

There’s a single-screen version at $270. But the Mobile Pixels Trio adds two 12.5-inch screens to the MacBook — one on either side. It’s $513.

Buy it from: Cult of Mac store

Or upgrade to the Trio Max for one 14.1-inch screen ($309) or two at the that same size ($597).

Buy it from: Cult of Mac store

InnoView Portable Monitor INVPM001

InnoView Portable Monitor INVPM001 review
The InnoView Portable Monitor is ideal for work, school, gaming or video.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

A good option to use around the home or office is the InnoView Portable Monitor INVPM001. It’s similar to the KYY mentioned earlier, but with different tradeoffs. It has a convenient built-in stand but doesn’t come with a flip cover. You’ll need to get a case.

The 15.6-inch LCD has the traditional 1920-by-1080-pixel resolution. It looks good, if not as high-quality as a MacBook display. And the product supports both USB-C and HDMI input.

It stores easily in a drawer, ready to be pulled out when you need to set up a home office on the kitchen tablets. Or carry it out onto your patio on a nice day.

The InnoView Portable Monitor INVPM001 is $180.

Buy if from: Amazon

Thinking about it? Read my review.


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