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This $130 portable monitor made my $1,000 Dell look ancient

As someone who often switches up their desktop setup, this portable monitor makes for an ideal second display that doesn't break the bank.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
The Hongo 16.1" Portable Gaming monitor.
Jack Wallen/ZDNET

For the longest time, I used two 24-inch monitors as my primary desktop setup. When those two monitors died an untimely death, I opted to part ways with my usual setup and go with a 34-inch curved Dell display, which cost me roughly $1,000 and has served me well for quite some time.

Also: This is by far the most convenient power strip I've ever used

However, even with 34 inches of screen real estate, my workflow tends to require a second monitor. And slapping two 34-inch monitors on my desk isn't exactly a viable solution (especially given I have two bookshelf speakers on my desk).

Recently, I was sent a 16.1-inch portable monitor to review, so I connected the Hongo 144Hz portable gaming monitor alongside my Dell and was left pleasantly surprised by the sheer visuals given how relatively affordable the thing was.

View at Amazon

Not only has the extra screen made a huge difference, but the monitor is a significant improvement over what past portable monitors I've used. It's clearer, brighter, and less prone to flicker than my portable monitor of the past. In fact, the Hongo monitor is considerably brighter than my Dell 34-inch, which, again, was nearly $1,000.

Also: This Dell monitor doubles as a swiveling, tablet-like touchscreen

The difference is quite stark, with the whites on the Hongo being crisper and more pronounced than the Dell. To be fair, the Dell monitor is at least seven years old, so it makes sense that a new monitor (especially one geared toward gaming) would be brighter. 

The specs

Enough with the small talk, let's take a look at the specs for the Hongo portable gaming monitor.

  • 16.1" 144Hz refresh rate
  • 1080P FHD with HDR and FreeSync
  • 0.2" thick and only 1.3 lbs.
  • Works with Linux, MacOS, Windows, Steam Deck, Switch, Xbox, PS5, iOS, and Android.
  • Can easily switch between horizontal and vertical modes (must be supported by your OS).
  • Built-in speakers.
  • Two USB-Type C connectors.
  • One micro USB connector
  • One mini HDMI connector.
  • One 3.5mm headphone jack.
  • Includes a foldable cover that doubles as a stand, two USB-Type C cables, an HDMI-to-mini-HDMI cable, and a power brick.

One thing to keep in mind is that the HDMI connector cannot provide power to the display. For that, you must use one of the USB-Type C connectors.

A side view of the Hongo 16.1" portable gaming monitor.

On this side of the monitor, you'll find a single mini USB connector, the menu dial, a power button, and the 3.5mm headphone jack.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

I've tried the Hongo portable gaming monitor in both landscape and portrait orientation (on Ubuntu Budgie) and it works to perfection. I prefer landscape mode, but mostly because of cable routing. Either way you turn the display, it works great as a secondary monitor.

Also: Best portable monitors: Compare models from Duex, Lenovo, and more

I opted to forgo the included stand and use an old, low-profile phone stand I had sitting around. This configuration allows me to place the portable monitor very close to my primary monitor, so I can easily see what's happening on both displays.

I also connected the Hongo display to my Nintendo Switch (via the USB Type-C cable) and it worked perfectly. My test was with the game Hollow Knight. Although the speakers do sound a bit tinny, you can always connect a pair of headphones for better sound.

ZDNET's buying advice

You'd be hard-pressed to find a better portable (or secondary) monitor for the price. The Hongo is bright, crisp, and easily set up to use in just about any configuration you might need. 

If you're looking to simplify your desktop workflow (and don't want two large monitors at your desk) or you want a portable monitor that can be connected to various types of devices, the Hongo portable gaming monitor might be just what you need.

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