Espresso Display
Image: Espresso Display

The highly portable nature of the Switch makes it a great system for those who are on the road a lot – not just because you can use the console's built-in 720p display for mobile gaming, but because it's also easy to carry around a second, external screen which bridges the gap between the Switch's display and your large flatscreen television at home.

The Switch's arrival on the market has fortuitously come at the same time as an explosion in external monitors; these thin and portable panels have a wide range of uses – they connect to almost anything that has HDMI-out, but also accept USB-C connections too, so you can use them with your laptop or even your smartphone – but many of them are being marketed as the ultimate Switch travel accessory; a screen thin and light enough to be carried in your rucksack, but one which offers a crisp 1080p image and can be powered using high-capacity USB battery packs. Oh, and shmup fans should note that TATE mode is great on these things.

With so many options on the market, we thought it might be a good idea to look at a few examples so you can get an impression of which one is right for you.

Editor's note: All of the screens shown below support USB-C connectivity with the Switch to share both image and picture data, as well as power, and in many of the manufacturer-supplied images used below, the Switch is shown being used without the dock. We used the original dock to test each screen unless expressly noted.

Nintendo Switch 1080p Portable Monitors

4K On A Budget: Desklab Ultralight Portable Monitor

We know what you're thinking – why would you want a 4K monitor for your Switch, when the most the console can output is 1080p? That's hard to argue with, but, unlike rivals such as the INNOCN PU15-PRE, this 4K screen costs just $399. Now, that's still a fair chunk of change for most people, but if you're in the market for a portable screen that's lightweight, has touch functionality (which only works on PC at the moment, sadly) and is capable of handling a 4K image as and when it's needed, this is a solid choice.

The image quality is fantastic, even if it isn't quite as nice as the OLED-powered PU15-PRE (there's an IPS screen in Desklab's display) and there's no internal battery, but otherwise, this one offers a distinct advantage over 1080p screens which cost around the same price; it's future-proof and will come in handy when Nintendo eventually releases a console with 4K output.

The downside here is that a kickstand isn't included in the box and must be purchased separately for $50 – without it, it's very hard to use the Desklab Ultralight Portable Monitor unless you prop it up against something, or you have an existing monitor stand you can use.

Cost: $399

Pros: 4K display, lightweight design

Cons: Kickstand isn't included in the price

The Premium Choice: espressoDisplay V2

Out of all of the screens we tested here, the espressoDisplay V2 is the one that feels the most premium. It comes in Apple-style packaging (the other displays arrived in largely plain boxes) and boasts a brushed-aluminium finish on its casing. Simply put, it looks gorgeous, even when it's switched off. We've featured the V2 model here, which benefits from new features such as auto-rotate and 'espressoFlow', the latter of which requires a software download on your computer and is mainly there to benefit Mac users (and even then, developers need to incorporate support for the screen in their apps, as there's no 'native' support for touch, which lucky Windows users get out-of-the-box).

Optional extras include a cool espressoStand adjustable metal stand – which uses magnets to hold the Espresso V2 in place, making it appear very much like a traditional monitor – as well as the espressoPen that can be used with the espressoDisplay V2's aforementioned touchscreen functionality. That naturally doesn't apply when using a games console like the Switch, but if you plan on buying a screen for both productivity and leisure, it's massively helpful – especially if you're a creative type who does a lot of digital art. There's also a cover that uses magnets to bolt onto the top of the screen and protects it when you're on the move.

Pitched as the world's thinnest portable monitor with a thickness of 5.3mm (the V1 model was 5.5mm) and overall weight of 865g, the espressoDisplay V2 is super-svelte yet offers a decent picture; the only drawback is that, because the case is so thin (there isn't even a 'bump' on the back, as is the case with the other screens tested here), the stereo speakers are quite weak when compared to the other screens we tested. It's by no means a dealbreaker, but we'd have liked a bit more 'oomph' when it comes to audio quality.

The espressoDisplay V2 removes the Mini-HDMI connection of the V1 screen and replaces it with two USB-C ports, which can be used to connect (and charge) the Switch without needing the Switch dock, as long as you're using a reasonably powerful PSU. For consoles that don't support TV-out over USB-C, you can purchase a special cable that converts standard HDMI into USB-C. The catch is that it requires power via USB-A to function, which means it's less elegant than simply using a USB-C cable.

Cost: £469.00 (15.6-inch), £419.00 (13.3-inch)

Pros: Utterly gorgeous design, quality screen, excellent optional accessories

Cons: Weak sound, quite expensive compared to the competition

The Budget Option #1: C-Force CF011X

C-Force
Image: C-Force

One of the cheapest options on the market right now is the C-Force CF011X, which costs "just" $180 (these screens aren't low-cost quite yet, put it that way). It's a 15.6-inch IPS screen with a resolution of 1080p – perfect for the Switch, which can't output higher than that in docked mode. The screen isn't quite as good as the one on the more expensive C-Force CF016XT, however, but you get what you pay for.

It's got two USB-C ports and a full-size HDMI port, rather than the more fiddly (and less common) Mini-HDMI connection. There's no touchscreen support – something that all of the other screens we tested offer – but that's not going to be an issue if you're planning on primarily using this screen with your Switch.

The design isn't as eye-catching as its rivals, but it's fairly rugged and will withstand some punishment on the road. If you like the idea of a "bridge" screen for your travels but don't want to pay over the odds, this is a good choice.

Cost: $180 USD

Pros: Low cost, rugged design

Cons: No touch support, display quality could be better

The Budget Option #2: Lepow Z1 Gamut

Lepow Z1 Gamut
Image: Lepow

Don't fancy the C-Force CF011X but still shopping on a budget? You could try the Lepow Z1 Gamut (these screens have the best names), which costs only slightly more at $200 but offers a similar kind of experience.

We're looking at another 15.6" Type-C display here, which offers two Type-C ports, a Mini-HDMI port, power button and scroll switch. The latter is used to navigate menus and change things like the volume and brightness, and while we really like the fact that it's more intuitive to access and change settings using this method, the switch feels very fragile and fiddly, and we lost count of the number of times we accidentally selected the wrong setting. Also, the switch stopped working completely at one point during our review – a complete reset of the display fixed the issue, but it was a little annoying nonetheless.

On the plus side, the display has a matte-style screen which means you get less glare in bright locations, and the design looks fantastic – it reminds us of the iPad Pro in a lot of ways. We also like the cover stand, which is laid flat on the table and has grooves into which the screen 'sits', which means it's highly unlikely to fall over during use. The display quality is decent enough; the Z1 Gamut has 100% SRGB support, and compares favourably to the other screens we tested here. As is the case with the CF011X, there's no touch capability.

Pros: Low cost, attractive design

Cons: No touch support, controls are fiddly and buggy

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The Super-Portable Choice: Lepow Lite H1 (2021)

Lepow 14-inch 2021
Image: Lepow

Lepow's Lite H1 is the smallest monitor included in this list and retails for a very reasonable $199.99. The 1080p IPS panel boasts a 178° wide viewing range and is easy to discern from even the most acute angle – a handy feature if you're planning on using your screen for multiplayer sessions with more than one person. The screen is also very bright and offers excellent contrast.

There are two Type-C ports on the back (one for power, one for data) as well as a mini-HDMI port. This is one seriously lightweight and portable screen, and the integrated cover also acts as a stand that can be used in both landscape and portrait mode – the latter comes in super-handy for TATE-mode shmups.

On the downside, the casing feels very cheap and there's a lot of flex in the body – so if you're looking for a screen that you can chuck in your backpack with little consideration of how it's going to hold up, this might not be the best option. The 'bump' on the back – where most of the internal components reside – is also rather large, and we don't like the fact that the volume/brightness rocker is on the back and therefore awkward to reach. Finally, the speakers are really weedy.

Pros: Good quality screen, Built-in stand is great for TATE gaming

Cons: Casing feels cheap and nasty, screen is smaller than its rivals, speakers are weak

The Mid-Ranger: C-Force CF016XT

C Force Cf016x
Image: Nintendo Life

C-Force's other option is one that we've featured previously on the site. The CF016XT is a lot more expensive than its sibling, costing $289.99, but it offers 10-point capacitive touch capability – handy if you plan to use it with your laptop or smartphone, as well as your Switch.

The 1080p panel offers 100% sRGB and a 144Hz refresh rate, as well as features such as HDR and Free-sync. The speakers on this surprisingly thin unit are pretty decent, too. Our review unit came with a handy folding plastic stand, but the magnetic protective cover also doubles as a stand (albeit one that's quite flimsy). Like the other screens tested here (with the exception of the Espresso) there's a slight bump on the back of the screen which houses all of the tech which powers it, as well as the various ports.

The quality of the screen is fantastic, but we did notice that there are some lighter areas at the bottom of the display, a sign that internal parts are pushing against the panel. The Mini-HDMI port is also a bit fiddly and means you'll need to keep the bundled HDMI-to-Mini-HDMI cable safe.

Cost: $290 USD

Pros: Amazing screen quality, touch support, good speakers

Cons: Expensive, quality-control issues

The Big Boy: Ananta

Ananta
Image: Ananta

The Ananta is the big boy of the bunch, measuring a whopping 17.3-inches. This touch-capable 1080p display comes with 2 USB-C ports, 1 USB-A, a full-size HDMI port and even a 3.5mm audio jack.

It's pretty light considering its size, but we found that the flip-over cover stand it ships with often isn't up to the task of holding it in position, as the screen feel over a few times during our testing period. The design is also a little dull, especially when compared to the Espresso. We also found that its large size means that it's harder to carry around with you; it wouldn't fit inside the laptop sleeve we used to carry around the C-Force CF016XT and Espresso screens.

On the positive side, the stereo speakers are powerful and the quality of the image is striking; colours really pop on this display. It also comes with an optional stylus (which is going to be of more interest to computer users looking for a second screen) and remote control which allows you to toggle options more easily.

A Kickstarter campaign is currently running which allows you to secure one for $359, at that's with an early-bird discount applied.

Cost: $359 USD

Pros: Amazing quality screen, Big size, touch support

Cons: Might be too large for some users, design is rather boring

The Extra Mile: C-Force C-SMART CF011S

The C-Force C-SMART CF011S is a 15.6-inch screen that comes with touch support, a remote control and the usual range of features, but its big selling point is the fact that it's a 'smart' screen – and that means you can use its Android-based OS to get online. Because of this, you can watch videos and access web content without having to connect the display to your computer, which could be a real selling point for some people.

A full-size HDMI port means you don't need to mess around with mini-HDMI cables or adapters, and the two USB-C ports can carry both data and power. There's even a standard USB port and a Micro SD card slot, should you wish to load up apps, movies or music to the device.

We also really liked the tablet-size cover, which folds out underneath the screen and acts as a stand, very much like some of the covers Apple has released for its iPad range. This means you don't have to invest in a separate stand for the screen when you're using it, but it does result in quite a large footprint.

On the downside, the scroll switch – like the one seen on the Z1 Gamut – is fiddly and, during our review, it stopped working and required a full reboot of the screen. The display itself is also slightly dull and lifeless, and the speakers are quite weak.

Cost: $279 USD

Pros: Android OS, touch support

Cons: Fiddly controls, screen is quite dull

The "Look Ma, No Wires!" Option: AVA wirelessHD

AVA wireless HD
Image: Nintendo Life / Damien McFerran

We've got a full review of the AVA wirelessHD here, but to cut a long story short, this remarkable screen uses cutting-edge 'wirelessHD mm-Wave 5G technology' to beam the image from your source to the display, offering a low-latency 'zero-lag' experience that (largely) removes the need for wires. It also works over long distances, with a 20-meter / 66-foot range being mooted by the manufacturer.

The model we received is the 13.3-inch variant (which is the smallest Innlead offers – 15.6 and 17.3-inch versions will also be available), and our sample maxes out at 1080p – but we're assured that the final version will offer 4K resolution – not that such a feature is likely to be much of a selling point for Switch owners, of course.

What makes the AVA wirelessHD so appealing for Switch owners is the fact that the transmitter also acts as a dock, so you can connect your Switch to it and enjoy TV play on the screen without having to use the bulky official dock. Because it's totally wireless – the monitor has its own internal rechargeable battery, which lasts a couple of hours per charge – you can use the screen anywhere that's in range of the transmitter. It might sound like a small thing – and a minor bonus when you consider the Switch itself has its own display and is built expressly with this kind of thing in mind – but moving to a 13.3-inch screen is still a step up. The LCD panel doesn't pop quite as much as the OLED's display, but it's bright and sharp.

Cost: From $489 USD

Pros: No wires, great picture, wireless transmitter acts as a Switch dock

Cons: Very expensive, wireless transmitter gets very hot under use

When 1080p Just Doesn't Cut It: INNOCN PU15-PRE 15.6" 4K OLED Monitor

If you thought that dropping $500 on a portable monitor was crazy, then you might want to stop reading now, because this baby retails for a whopping $800. The steep price is all to do with the tech involved; not only is this a massive screen, but it's also OLED – and gives it a distinct advantage over the IPS panels on the market.

Colours look utterly stunning on the PU15-PRE, and the contrast is amazing. Add in features such as an internal 5000mAh battery, 10-point touch support and 4K resolution, and the high price becomes a little clearer. To round it all off, the monitor is clad in an Apple-style metal casing which makes it feel incredibly premium, while the bundled case not only protects your investment but also doubles as a handy kickstand.

The issue here, of course, is that the 4K resolution is wasted on the Switch, which can only output at 1080p, but as is the case with every screen in this round-up, the PU15-PRE really comes into its own when you're using it for more than just games. It can double as a second screen for your computer to enhance your productivity or as a travel companion for when you fancy watching 4K movies on the go (you can connect your smartphone or tablet via USB-C, you see).

Pros: 4K OLED screen is amazing, great build quality, internal battery means true portability

Cons: Probably too expensive for most users

The Not-So-Portable Option: INNOCN 27" 4K LCD IPS Display

INNOCN 27" 4K LCD IPS Display
Image: Nintendo Life / Damien McFerran

Yep, we've cheated a bit here. Not only is this not a portable montior, it's also 4K – which means it's pretty much over-qualified for the job of running your Switch games. However, before you pull out those pitchforks, allow us to explain. INNOCN's screen comes with a multitude of ports, including two HMDI sockets. So you could happily use this as your 'work' screen but have your Switch hooked up for when you fancy a quick game of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe at lunch. The display even rotates 90-degrees, which makes it ideal for playing TATE-mode titles.

Also, because it can supply 65W via its USB-C port, you can hook up the Switch dock and power it via the monitor itself, which cuts down on power supplies and the like. Sure, that 4K panel isn't needed for Switch, but the IPS LCD screen is bright, punchy and sharp, so Switch games do look pretty decent regardless. The monitor's dual speakers are also fine, if a little weak.

The price is obviously going to be a sticking point, but it's not too expensive compared to some of the better 1080p portable screens on the market – the massive caveat being that this isn't portable. At All.

Pros: Great screen, can power Switch dock, rotates for TATE games

Cons: Expensive, not portable


We were supplied with review samples of the screens featured in this round-up by the companies who manufacture them.