The Lepow Z1 is currently the most affordable portable USB-C monitor on the market with attractive specs and design. Its one of the offerings that are hard to resist if you are on the hunt for something as specific as a secondary display on the go, especially if you don’t want to overspend. The Lepow Z1 sounds too good to be true against its $200-plus competition, so let’s see how it compares.
Lepow Z1 Specifications
- Screen Size: 16 Inches
- Resolution:1920 x 1080 FHD
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Panel Technology: In-Plane Switching (IPS)
- Refresh Rate: 60Hz
- Contrast Ratio: 1000:1
- Brightness: 300 cd/m²
- Built-in Speakers: Yes (2 x 1 Watt)
- Stand: Height – No
- Stand: Tilt – Yes
- Stand: Swivel – No
- Stand: Pivot – No
- VESA Compatibility: No
- Connectivity: USB-C x 1, Micro HDMI 1.4 x 1, 3.5mm Jack x 1
- Dimensions With Stand (WxHxD): 14.5″ x 8.8″ x .34″
- Weight: 1.7 lbs
Design and Features
The Lepow Z1 sports a subdued design that won’t make it an eyesore with most laptops, especially the models built for workstation purposes. The chassis has a matte black texture all over with a Lepow logo in white lettering that stands out from the front bezel. This model isn’t bezel-free, but the thickness of the borders and its ratio against the display is quite reasonable.
The Lepow Z1 is bigger than a number of portable monitors such as the Lenovo M14, but its comparable with the Asus offerings we reviewed recently. What’s great about it is its also thin and lightweight, measuring a third of an inch and about 1.7 pounds respectively. This means it’s easy to slide into your laptop bag, and you won’t feel a considerable weight gain from your portable work or gaming station.
One notable feature of the Lepow Z1 is it uses a scroll wheel for OSD navigation instead of joysticks or buttons. Frankly, the tool is very to use since you only roll it to the right or left to move through the submenus and press it to activate a selection or open the OSD itself. Joysticks are still preferable since they are more tactile, but it’s easy to use this type after a bit of practice.
Like most portable monitors, the Lepow Z1 does ship with a folding cover that also doubles as its stand. What we like about this part is it covers both the rear and the front, so the gadget is well protected while you are in transit. It also attaches to the rear of the chassis via a magnetic stripe, and it has notches on the bottom part so you can control the display’s tilt.
The only complaint we had for the cover is it does not support portrait mode which is very useful for cramped spaces. There are other ways to prop up the monitor, but the most convenient way of keeping it from sliding down or falling over is still the original mechanism designed for it.
The Lepow Z1 carries two USB-C slots and a Micro HDMI slot for inputs, along with the necessary cables to run the display. You can pick between the USB-C slot on the right and the HDMI port on the right, but the other USB-C receptacle at the opposite side is only meant for power delivery. Yes, you can run this monitor with a single USB-C cable, but you will need an external power source if your laptop cannot provide enough juice or if you use the HDMI slot.
The product comes with a USB-C to USB-A capable with an AC adapter for this purpose, but we all prefer that it draws power from your laptop for lesser wires. However, there will still be instances where the adapter will come in handy, especially if you want to use a non-USB-C device like a Nintendo Switch with the Lepow Z1.
It’s great that Lepow already included the cables you will need for daily use with the Z1. The USB-C to USB-C cable is said to be reinforced, but the first one we got broke while it was inserted into the monitor. Lepow sent us a new one, but we think its best to buy an aftermarket cable if you are getting this monitor.
There is also a pair of 1-watt speakers on the Lepow Z1 which will come in handy if you don’t have other options for audio output. They sound tinny with very little bass response, so we don’t imagine anyone preferring to use the pair instead of the laptop’s built-in or a decent headset. Our laptop’s volume was only 22 while the Z1’s was already full, but still, the former was louder and clearer.
Display and Performance
The Lepow Z1 sports a 15.6-inch IPS panel with a 1920 x 1080 resolution, 60Hz refresh rate, and unspecified response time. The backlight is rated at 300 cd/m2, while the contrast is listed at 1000:1 which is comparable to desktop monitors than the other portable variants we tested. These specifications are not meant for very specific applications like editing or gaming since the screen is limited in some key aspects.
The IPS panel on the Lepow Z1 has a higher pixel density of a little over 142PPI which means it will look sharper and cleaner than most 1080p monitors. It’s almost identical to most laptop screens, so we imagine most users won’t struggle with reading or document processing without scaling. However, the overall virtual space you get is still within the limits of the 1080p resolution, so you don’t get a larger canvass like what 1440p and 4K displays offer.
The Lepow Z1 posted dismal results when it comes to image quality, starting with its limited sRGB coverage of around 79% and around 68% of DCI-P3. Color accuracy suffered through a DeltaE average of 7.2 which is too high for any monitor, even for the office-use variants. Calibration resulted in a DE of 3.6 which is a bit more decent, but still with some noticeable deviations in some shades.
The backlight on the also failed to meet its specification since its limited to 198 cd/m2 at 100% brightness. Contrast is also quite low at 620:1, resulting in high black luminance scores which are then translated into grayish blacks and poor grayscale performance. Using the Z1 in the dark will show these flaws even more, but it’s a mixed bag since its limited brightness will struggle to fight glare when its deployed outdoors.
HDR is also advertised for the Lepow Z1, but we didn’t see any considerable changes if it’s active. The screen’s gamut and other qualities are not sufficient to improve the image quality and boost its vividness or dynamic range.
Panel uniformity on the Lepow Z1 is the most decent since there are practically no backlight leaks on the edges of the display. However, the lower-left corner is slightly brighter than the rest, but it’s only visible if the backlight is set to high levels. Take note that we cannot guarantee that all Z1 units will perform identically in this regard since there are manufacturing tolerances to consider.
The Lepow Z1 isn’t the most responsive monitor, but its pixels can hold off some blurring in slow-paced or casual games. It’s not recommended for competitive use, but titles like Pokemon Sword and Shield on the Switch or even movies won’t have issues. Moving images do not look sluggish or leave any trails, so you do get a decent entertainment package rolled with the product.
The Lepow Z1 doesn’t have FreeSync, so you cannot rely on VRR for buttery smooth frames with any GPU. However, that won’t be an issue since 1080p at 60Hz is below gaming standards nowadays, so most GPUs and consoles won’t struggle to reach it. We were unable to measure input lag accurately, but we did not find any massive differences when compared to a 60Hz IPS monitor like the BenQ GW2480.
Thoughts on the Lepow Z1
The Lepow Z1 is a tempting piece of kit thanks to its very low price and simple, yet functional design. We like how the brand implemented the features of the monitor such as its connectivity and OSD access, along with its modest size and weight. The portability aspect is very much fulfilled with this product, so we don’t think you will have any complaints if you decide to attach it to your mobile work or gaming station.
However, the biggest downside of the Lepow Z1 is it sacrifices too much of its image quality to presumably meet its price point. The gadget would benefit a lot from factory calibration, so users are greeted with a decent image setting that won’t need tweaking right away. The Lepow Z1 is a practical option if you are looking for a secondary display, but you have to live with limitations that some may consider deal-breaking.
- Excellent Price
- Simple and Functional Design
- Thin and Lightweight
- Reasonable Gaming Performance
- Cables and Wall Adapter Included
- Poor Image Quality
- Limited Brightness and Contrast
- USB-C Cable Broke Easily
About the Author:
Paolo is a gaming veteran since the golden days of Doom and Warcraft and has been building gaming systems for family, friends, and colleagues since his junior high years. High-performance monitors are one of his fixations and he believes that it’s every citizen’s right to enjoy one. He has gone through several pieces of hardware in pursuit of every bit of performance gain, much to the dismay of his wallet. He now works with Monitornerds to scrutinize the latest gear to create reviews that accentuate the seldom explained aspects of a PC monitor.