Laptops are portable miracle machines that let you work (or play) whenever and wherever you want. Unfortunately, their limited screens also limit your productivity compared to a dual monitor desktop. But what if you could have that on the go?
Dual Screen Laptops Are Cool (But Expensive)
At the premium end of the laptop spectrum, we’re seeing quite a few awesome laptop concepts that integrate multiple screens. The Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo has a brilliant secondary touch screen that pops up above the keyboard when you open the laptop.
ASUS ROG Zephyrus Duo 16 (2022)
Not only is the Zephyrus Duo 16 a cracking high-end gaming laptop, it’s innovative integrated second screen makes it a productivity monster, especially for creative folk who work with video, music, or graphic design.
The Lenovo Yogabook i9 integrates a full vertical dual-monitor setup into its svelt frame, with the option to turn it into a side-by-side portrait setup if that’s your thing.
These awesome productivity and entertainment laptops come with eye-watering prices, though, and do you really want to buy a whole new laptop just to add a second screen? The good news is that there are more than a few options to add a second screen to your mobile laptop without buying a whole new laptop!
Use a Portable Monitor Instead
Portable monitors are essentially laptop monitors without the laptop. They generally come in the popular 15.4-inch size but are also available in other sizes. Some of these monitors have HDMI or other traditional display inputs, but usually, the monitor works via USB.
These screens don’t have batteries and are slim enough to slip into the same laptop bag or sleeve you’re using for your computer. So it’s as simple as taking the screen out, plugging it in, and getting to work.
The Best Portable Monitors of 2023
Best Portable Monitor Overall
Asus ProArt Display PA148CTV
Best Budget Portable Monitor
Lepow Z1 Gamut
Best Portable Monitor for MacBooks
ASUS ZenScreen Go MB16AHP 15.6″ Portable Monitor Full HD IPS Eye Care with Micro HDMI USB Type-C
Best Portable Gaming Monitor
Asus ROG Strix XG17AHPE
Best Portable Touchscreen Monitor
Best 4K Portable Monitor
Mount a Laptop Screen Extender
Portable monitors are great for turning your humble single-screen laptop into a productivity monster, but they come with a drawback when it comes to space. First, you can’t use them on your lap, and second, you may not always have enough table surface for the monitor to stand.
This is where a laptop screen “extender” comes to the rescue. This is a monitor system or monitor mounting system that attaches the additional screens to the main laptop body. Using this solution, your laptop’s footprint remains the same, since the additional monitors don’t touch the ground.
Yes, we said monitors, because these extenders are also available in triple-monitor formats. Of course, this brings up the legitimate question of whether your laptop can handle the weight of an extra monitor attached to it. In most cases these monitors are so light that it easily falls within the weight capacity of the primary screen, but if you’re using an ultra-thin and light laptop, it’s worth double-checking whether it’s officially compatible. Otherwise, get in touch with the extender manufacturer and ask if their product will work with your computer.
FICIHP Triple Screen Laptop Monitor
Why have one extra screen for your laptop when you can have two? The FICIHP offers a flexible way for road warriors and coffee shop coders alike to get more productive work space.
Turn Your Phone or Tablet Into a Secondary Display
If you already own an iPad or Android tablet, you can most likely use it as an extended USB or wireless screen with your laptop. In the case of an iPad, you can use Apple’s Sidecar, or with a third-party solution. Although, arguably, Apple’s newer Universal Control feature may be a more powerful way to combine an iPad and a Mac.
Owners of Android tablets sadly don’t have such a straightforward solution, but certain brands of Android tablet, such as Samsung Galaxy tablets have similar solutions. Don’t worry if your Android tablet doesn’t have a brand-specific solution though, since you can use apps such as Duet Display with any tablet that meets the app’s requirements.
RELATED: How to Make Your iPad Work Like a Laptop
Try a VR Headset
The last way to add more monitors to your laptop may seem a little left of field, but you can use a VR headset like the Quest 2 to create a virtual workspace with multiple virtual desktops. In this case, you’re not using your laptop’s monitor, but rather creating a virtual workstation without dragging around multiple physical screens.
We don’t recommend using this solution in public places such as coffee shops or airport lounges, but if you have a private workspace such as a hotel room, it’s actually a pretty amazing solution. The two main apps to know about are Virtual Desktop and Immersed.