Have you ever wanted to take your console with you on the go? Ever wished for a second screen for your laptop? How about a large monitor to make sure your mirrorless camera is in focus? Today, we’re looking at a portable monitor that can do all of those things but at only $169.99, is it worth the cost of entry? Join us as we find out. This is our review of the Lepow 15.6” Type-C Portable Monitor.
- Current Price: $169.99 (Amazon)
- Screen Size: 15.6-inch
- Panel Type: IPS
- Resolution: 1920 x 1080 (1080p, FHD)
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
- Brightness: 300 cd/m
- Video Input: Mini-HDMI, USB Type-C
- Orientation: Portrait or landscape
- Speakers: Yes, dual speakers
- Weight: 1.6lbs
- Included accessories: Case/foldable stand, screen protector, mini-HDMI to HDMI cable, USB Type-C cable
- Warranty: 3-year
When Lepow first reached out about their new portable monitor, I admit was intrigued but also more than a little skeptical. Portable monitors are nothing new but their quality can vary wildly from one brand to the next and the best of them often carry a hefty premium. At $169.99, the Lepow Type-C Portable Monitor falls right in the middle of the market, not the cheapest but also far from the most expensive. It’s also being marketed at gamers, which – forgive me here – is often used as a quick way to charge a few extra bucks.
I’m pleased to say that doesn’t seem to be the case here. After about a month with the Lepow, I’ve found it surprisingly capable for everything I’ve thrown at it. When the wife and kids want to use the TV, I can easily connect my PS4, Xbox One X, or Nintendo Switch and be gaming in seconds. The colors are good, the brightness is good, and it even comes with a pair of stereo speakers (though you’re probably better off using headphones; they’re only 2-watt).
At 15.6-inches, it feels quite large. If you’ve ever gamed on a laptop, you’ll feel right at home. I was initially concerned that it might be too big but it fits easily in any of my bags and the included cover and film screen protector do a good job of keeping it safe. I would still recommend investing in a tempered glass screen protector for that extra layer of protection as well as a better cover/stand. It’s nice that Lepow included these accessories but both feel rather flimsy; definitely in the “nice to find” category but they definitely feel like pack-ins.
Getting up and running is very easy with one exception that I’ll get to soon. After you’ve plugged it into an outlet and turned it on, you simply connect the mini-HDMI-to-HDMI cable and it automatically picks up the signal. I found the default brightness too dim but the panel can actually achieve a surprisingly bright 300-nits. You’ll have to set it yourself, though.
Above the power button is a clickable lever that you can hold to enter the menu. Like most budget monitors, the stock picture settings aren’t great, so I’d recommend setting your own. Pushing the brightness to 100-percent and boosting contrast gave the best results for my taste. There’s also a Sharpening option that was surprisingly effective at removing the softness from Mario Maker 2 on the Switch without introducing artifacts. You can also adjust color values and a few other basic settings, like your volume, but it’s a pretty basic OSD that gets the job done.
The buttons do feel a little flimsy, however. They’re plastic and the spring-loaded lever in particular doesn’t inspire confidence in its long-term durability. It worked fine throughout my month of testing but I could see this being the first thing to break, leaving you without volume or OSD control.
On the other side you have your video inputs and headphone jack. The Lepow Type-C monitor can accept either HDMI or video directly over USB Type-C. This makes it quite the versatile screen. You can connect it to any of the major game consoles. You can plug it into your laptop’s HDMI out and use it as a second screen. You can ever hook it up to your smartphone and have it mirror your device, which is great if you want to watch Netflix without squinting to see the details.
Just make sure you have a spare power brick laying around. The monitor comes with a handful of cables: mini-HDMI-to-HDMI, USB-C to USB-C, USB-C to USB-A but doesn’t actually include a way to draw power from the wall. If you’re using a device that can directly power the Lepow, you’ll be fine right out of the gate. In my case, I opened it up only to find there was no way for me to actually use it. Thankfully, I did have a brick but then I ran into another problem, the included USB-C to USB-A cable is so short that you essentially need to be right on top of the outlet. I wound up buying a six-foot cable and extra brick but it made for a baffling start. Why would you ship a product without everything you need to actually turn it on?
There are also built-in speakers. I would put these closer to tablet speakers than the type you’d usually find on a monitor – they’ll let you hear but they’re super thin and distort easily. Plug-in a pair of headphones or, as the Amazon product page recommends, an external speaker for better sound.
Gaming on Lepow was quite good. As an IPS monitor, it doesn’t offer the fastest response time but I never felt like my actions lagged behind my input and the colors and viewing angles were great. Since you’re using this with consoles or as a second screen, it’s best compared to the experience of gaming on a TV and, honestly, I couldn’t tell a difference in input lag. I was able to play shooters, platformers, and action gamers perfectly fine, which is exactly what I hoped for.
The 1080p resolution also means that the image stays sharp. Have a look at Batman: Arkham Knight in the picture above. In terms of picture quality, there’s really no sacrifices. The colors are rich without being over saturated, blacks are decent (not great), and the brightness makes sure none of the fine details are hidden by a weak backlight. Lepow has really nailed it here.
One of my personal curiosities was whether I could use this display as a camera monitor. While that’s outside the world of gaming and more into content creation, it was honestly one of the things I was most excited about. I love taking pictures and shooting video with my mirrorless camera but the tiny screen on the back of the camera always made it difficult to find out of I was in focus. The thing is, dedicated camera monitors are expensive – and that’s before you even step up to 1080p. Given the price, I figured it was a lost cause. At this price, it either wouldn’t work or would have some huge drawback…
Instead, it worked great. What you’re seeing in the picture above was sent directly from my Panasonic Lumix G85. Don’t mind the too-warm color and over exposure in the picture. That was the fault of the camera. The Lepow showed exactly what the camera sent in full HD, color correct to what I saw on the G85’s flip-screen. This increases the monitor’s value tremendously. Why would I ever buy a true “camera monitor” when this will achieve my purposes just as well?
A note here, for the photobugs among you: No, I don’t know that it’s actually “color accurate.” It’s probably not, at least in the sense that those expensive monitors are. But to my eye, it’s very good. I wanted this to make sure I was in focus and without dealing with a low-res image or horrible color tint. The Lepow is a real winner on that front.
I went in skeptical but the Lepow 15.6-inch Portable Monitor really won me over. For gaming on the go, adding a second screen to your PC or laptop, or even doubling as a cheap camera monitor, it works great. There are some drawbacks, like the cheap speakers or plastic buttons, but it’s versatility and performance where it counts trump what you’re giving up. If you’re in the market for a portable display, definitely give this one a look.
- Lots of screen real estate for gaming or productivity
- Good colors and response time – on par with gaming on a TV
- 300-nit peak brightness and easy image tweaking
- Can accept HDMI or USB Type-C input – versatile
- Doubles as a camera monitor
- Plastic buttons
- Cheap speakers
- Limited OSD
The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of review.