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what is a laptop screen extender

What is a Laptop Screen Extender?

Daniel Russo
Reading time: 7 minutes
Laptops have a wide range of uses that include everything from graphic intense gaming to office work and video editing. For all but the most demanding user, laptops can be spec’d out to meet or eclipse the speed of a desktop PC, without having the limitation of being locked into one location. This portability is exactly why laptops have remained a popular choice for PC users around the world.
One of the main drawbacks of laptops vs. desktops is that desktops can be outfitted with multiple large, high-definition screens that make everything from working on a document to playing an online FPS a whole lot more pleasant. Since laptops have become the new all-in-one PC option for so many people, manufacturers like HP have developed laptop screen extenders to make working and playing a better experience all around.
Laptop screen extenders allow users to add additional screens to their laptops for a widescreen experience when at home, the office, or the road. Thanks to USB-C, laptop screen extenders can often be utilized with a single connection. When laptop users need to take things on the road, they can simply disconnect their laptop screen extender and use the laptop or convertible just like normal. This flexibility gives users the best of both worlds by allowing portability when they need it and a multi-screen format when they don’t.
Let’s dive into the world of laptop screen extenders to learn more.

What types of laptop screen extenders are out there?

man working on protable laptop screen
There are a number of laptop screen extenders out there that can work for users who want more screen real estate without committing to a desktop machine. Let’s dig into the best laptop screen extenders currently available on the market.

Portable monitors

One of the most compelling ways to double your productivity is to hook up an external monitor like the HP E14 G4 Portable Monitor.
Portable monitors are relatively lightweight and unlike traditional AC-powered monitors, come with a built-in kickstand that allows them to stand up on their own without the need for a separate stand. Thanks to their lightweight design, and compact dimensions, portable monitors can often be carried along in the same bag as your laptop and be ready to deploy in an instant. For example, the HP E14 G4 portable monitor weighs just 640 grams and is less than 4.75 mm thick.
HP E14 G4 Portable Monitor
In addition to their lightweight design, portable monitors are bright and clear. HP’s E14 G4 offers up a stunning, anti-glare, 400-nit screen that looks as good in a conference room as it does in the field. The best portable monitors are also self-powered and offer a one-cable connection to your laptop thanks to USB-C. If you’re stationary and have access to power, portable monitors like the E14 G4 offer a pass-through that will allow you to charge your laptop while the portable monitor is in use.
For those that favor portability over outright image quality, you can’t beat a portable monitor.

Dual monitors & laptop dock

Laptop users who are not interested in complete portability can have a beautiful, desktop-style setup thanks to products like the HP Thunderbolt Dock 120W with HDMI Adapter and Dual HP M24f FHD Monitor Bundle.
The best laptop docks, like the HP Thunderbolt Dock, plug into a laptop with one USB-C cable and offer a large variety of connections to facilitate multiple monitors, USB connections, and more. Products like the HP Thunderbolt Dock can support up to two 4K monitors, making it perfect for gamers that run more hardcore monitor setups like the awesome HP X24c Dual Gaming Monitor Bundle.
HP X24c Dual Gaming Monitor Bundle
Although they are not designed to be portable, laptop users who find themselves more stationary than mobile will find dual monitors and a dock to be the ultimate desktop-style solution.

Clip-on style laptop screen extenders

One of the more interesting laptop screen extender designs out there are units that offer dual screens in a compact, foldable package that clips right onto the lid of the laptop.
Unlike a portable monitor, clip-on screen extenders are usually smaller and offer a dimmer screen, with a lower resolution. The design varies, but in general, clip-on screen extenders are one size fits all, and are self-powered with USB-C. On the plus side, this type of screen extender is incredibly lightweight and provides additional screen real estate in a snap. On the downside, these units are power-hungry and can put a serious drain on your laptop's battery. Plus, they’re not very bright or pleasant to look at.
For the person who needs a dual screen on the go, a clip-on style laptop screen extender could be worth a good look.

What are the benefits of a laptop screen extender?

laptop portable screen on table
Laptop screen extenders allow laptop users to increase their productivity when stationary by offering more screen space to easily support multitasking.
You can keep a document you’re writing on one screen while you do research on the other, or keep email up on screen while you work on task management programs on the other screen. Video call on one screen, while you take notes on the other - the possibilities are nearly endless, and the best laptop screen extenders make the transitions from screen to screen a snap.
On the fun side, laptop screen extenders can provide gamers with a serious upgrade to their gaming experience by increasing their useable screen space over the typically smaller screen of a laptop. This means more detail for when you’re in the heat of the battle and need that extra edge over your opponents.
The best laptop screen extenders can support 4K, high-definition gaming monitors that offer curved screens and incredibly fast response times.

Who can benefit from a laptop screen extender?

man working on dual monitors
Everyone that works on a laptop on a regular basis can benefit from a laptop screen extender.
For those that work at home, the extra productivity of a dock with two additional screens is revolutionary. Not only is the set-up easy, but units like the HP Thunderbolt Dock are also beautifully designed to fit right into any decor with minimal cords. Gamers will want to check out laptop docks, thanks to their ability to support not one but two 4K, high-definition gaming monitors.
Those who travel for work but find laptop screens to be too small can seriously benefit from a self-powered portable monitor that is lightweight, thin, and offers a bright and clear display. Whether in a communal workspace, hotel room, or satellite office, a portable monitor is a game changer for productivity on the road.
In short, if you own a laptop, there are countless scenarios where additional screen space could be a boost to your productivity.

What are the best laptop screen extenders?

The best laptop screen extenders depend on exactly what the user is looking for.
For road warriors who need an additional monitor when traveling for work or for play, a portable monitor offers an excellent option. Thanks to its lightweight design, clear screen, and single USB-C connection, the HP E14 G4 Portable Monitor is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a single additional display.
HP Thunderbolt Dock 120W with HDMI Adapter
Hardcore gamers or those that find themselves at home more than on the road will benefit from a desktop-style dock and dual monitor setup. Check out the HP Thunderbolt Dock 120W with HDMI Adapter and Dual HP M24f FHD Monitor Bundle for the ultimate home office-based setup. This dock not only looks great but offers an incredible array of connections including two HDMI ports, USB ports, and an Ethernet connection. Gamers will want to check out the HP X24c Dual Gaming Monitor Bundle, complete with 1500R curvature and a super-fast 140 Hz refresh rate.
There’s nothing wrong with clip-on style dual monitors, especially for people who need an on-demand solution that provides additional screen real estate. However, most of the products on the market offer low-resolution, low-NIT displays with substantial bezels and high power usage. For the occasional user, they offer a solid solution, but more demanding users should look elsewhere.

About the Author

Daniel Russo is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. He’s a lifetime technology enthusiast and avid traveler who travels the country with his wife and three terriers.

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