Looking for an affordable portable monitor to take your name on the go? The Lepow Z1 Gamut is a $169 USB Type-C, 1080p monitor enhanced with quantum dots for a vibrant picture. Is it worth a buy? Find out in our review!
- Current Price: $199.99 (Amazon), $169.99 (TikTech)
- Model: Model: Z1-Gamut (2020)
- Resolution: 1920x1080
- Screen Size: 15.6 inch
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9/4:3 - Portrait and Landscape Modes
- Color Temperature: 6800K
- Brightness: 320cd/m²
- Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
- Field of View: 178-degrees
- Output Interface: 3.5 mm headphone interface
- Input: Dual USB Type-C (1x power), Mini HDMI
- Audio: Dual Speaker
- Smart Cover Stand Included
- Quantum Dot Enhanced
Back in 2019, I reviewed the original Lepow portable monitor. At the end of the review, I remarked that I went in skeptical considering the $169.99 price point, but concluded that it had “really won me over.” For browsing and productivity, it was great: a truly solid value. One of the issues that became increasingly more noticeable over time for gaming, however, is that the brightness and color depth were only just enough to really look good. If there were any stark reminder that the monitor was aimed at budget audiences, that would have been it. It worked great on the Nintendo Switch but swapping my Red Dead Redemption 2 game from the big screen TV to the portable monitor really made it clear that the picture tended toward being flat instead of rich. Still a good value, to be sure, and playable enough that I’m still using it today, but they were areas for improvement.
Lepow seemed to feel the same, which is why today I’m able to look at the Z1 Gamut. This model targets exactly those shortcomings. Compared to the original, the screen is 20 cd/m brighter and is much more color-rich and has improved blacks. It accomplishes this by using quantum dots in the display, very similar to higher-end gaming monitors and HDTVs. In practice, it’s a noticeable, but not profound, improvement. Since the original was “on the cusp,” this revision pushes it over the edge and makes it a great buy for the money.
The monitor features a 15.6-inch 1080p display with a 60Hz refresh rate. It’s SDR but does have a 2084 mode for interpreting high dynamic range content. It accepts USB Type-C and Micro HDMI video inputs and has a second Type-C port for power (cables are included for each). The display is also able to support landscape or portrait orientations but only on the host side, so your video device will need to be able to send the correct orientation; it works for my PC but not my Samsung Note 20 Ultra. Lepow also ships the Z1 Gamut with a smart case that can support either orientation. It also includes stereo speakers. They’re small, so I would only recommend using them if you absolutely have to, but it’s nice to see they’re included.
When it comes to the construction, it’s virtually identical to the original monitor I reviewed from 2019. It’s available in black or gray and has thin bezels on the top and sides. There is more of a chin to the unit, but it’s finished in brushed aluminum which looks very nice. In fact, the whole body of the display is crafted from aluminum. I wouldn’t go dropping it but it has a robust build that feels more premium than its price would imply. Like the original, it uses plastic buttons. These are fairly close, but there’s less play in them than before which makes them feel more in line with the rest of the unit.
Getting to performance, I’ll echo much of what I said in the original review. For the money, it’s pretty darn impressive. The screen is reasonably crisp at this resolution, which makes watching content and playing games a more enjoyable experience. Sure, for a next-gen console, it will be a step down in resolution, but at 15.6-inches, 1080p looks great. Likewise, 60Hz might be a downgrade from a normal gaming monitor, but if that’s how you’re using this display, you’re doing it wrong. The Z1 Gamut is a great second screen or console monitor but don’t go comparing it to your $500 PC monitor and expecting a fair comparison.
Instead, this monitor is a very good fit for the Xbox Series X, PS5, and Nintendo Switch. I swapped from my main TV to the Z1 Gamut on each of these consoles and it was consistently seamless. Simply plug in the HDMI, give the monitor power — there is no built-in battery, which is an important drawback — and it’s good to go.
Back to back with the original, the Z1 Gamut looks much better. That small boost to brightness and color saturation make a big difference to the overall quality of the picture. Red Dead Redemption 2 finally had vibrancy again. Black level performance has also been improved, making shadows and dark regions look more natural. On the original, I found that I had to adjust the screen when the in-game timer would cycle to night. Here, that’s not necessary. The black level, brightness, contrast, and RGB percentages are all customizable too, which is good for calibration.
At this price, you shouldn’t expect the world and there are a couple of important areas of sacrifice. The first is the lack of an internal battery. That limits the portability of the Z1, but it’s not as bad as it might be. The monitor is able to be powered by a smartphone if you’re using it as a phone display or with Samsung Dex. You can also power it through USB, which is very convenient. But, doing so limits maximum brightness. When connected only to my phone, ticking brightness past 97% caused the display to power cycle.
The second is that the out-of-box calibration wasn’t very good. For normal gaming, it won’t make a difference, but if you plan to use it as a second screen for your PC, I would highly recommend taking the time to run a color calibration.
Even with those sacrifices, this is a great little monitor. Since my review of the original, I’ve kept it in my entertainment center with a nice long HDMI cable to continue playing games when my wife or kids have their turn with the TV. The original had its shortcomings but was a solid unit. The Z1 Gamut addresses them all and is a darn good value for the money. If you’re in the market for a portable monitor, I would highly recommend checking it out.
Update - 3/5/21: Lepow has reached out to us to ask that we share the code FORBESCODE for use on TikTech, lowering the price to $169.99. Since the publication of this article, Lepow has also clarified that TikTech, "is the same logistic from Amazon that ship [sic] from US and the same shipping method."
The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes. The TikTech link included in this article is a tracking link via Lepow to monitor traffic sources. MMORPG.com and Chris Coke are not Lepow affiliates and will receive no commission for any purchases made through included links (our writers are not paid for either clicks or commissions).