Review: The Lepow Z1 15.6-inch USB-C portable monitor is a handy sidekick screen
But is it 100% portable?
I don’t know about you, but I find that having an extra screen is very useful. I use two within my office setup; that of my Honor MagicBook 14 and a Samsung monitor. But what would I do if I needed a second monitor outside of the office? This is where a portable monitor steps in.
Lepow’s 15.6-inch USB-C computer display is an example of such a device. It retails at $188.98 (at the time of writing). That may seem a little on the expensive side for a portable screen. However, it has a number of handy features that make it worth a spend. Here’s the second-screen scoop.
A generously-sized screen
As you can tell from the name, the monitor has a 15.6″ screen. This is great, as it gives you plenty of space to view, well, whatever you want to view, really. Also, the bezels are relatively thin, so you don’t have half of the front face dominated by a metal rim. The native resolution is 1080p, which is good for watching movies and playing casual games in HD. In addition, the screen is great for everyday “workhorse” tasks like word-processing. Plus, you can even use it for simple photo editing tasks. A 60 Hz refresh rate ensures that motion-blur is minimal, in line with a standard TV set, for example.
Color-wise, the device performs fairly well. The colors are not dull, which is great as I use mine as a dedicated monitor for my Evercade handheld console. The console has HDMI out so I am able to connect the two together easily. Given the vibrancy of the colors in 8 and 16-bit games, I am happy to say that they maintain their crispness when using this monitor. I’m not sure how it would perform with a more heavy-duty console like a PS4 or Xbox. But – for this purpose – it is great.
The overall dimensions of the device are 14.50 x 8.80 x 0.34 inches. So, it is nice and thin. Given that it only weighs 1.7 lbs, this, combined with the dimensions, makes it easy to carry around with you. Of course, this means you can pop it in your backpack or laptop bag and away you go.
I have to say, the Lepow has numerous options available in terms of ports. The right of the monitor features a mini-HDMI port, a full-function Type-C port, and a 3.5 mm audio-out port. It is important to differentiate the Type-C port as “full-function” as there is one on the left, too. The right-hand port can accept input from another source-device and also power the screen.
The left-hand-side of the Lepow carries the power-only Type-C port, the rocker to navigate the OSD (on-screen display) menu, and the power button. Additionally, you can use the power button as a “select” key when using the OSD as well. Both sides of the display feature a speaker, denoted by the perforations at the center of each side.
State your case
The Lepow comes with a stylish, protective case. This is black and has a nice, micro, leather grain finish. This means it is soft to the touch. Also, most importantly, it protects your valuable tech from knocks, scuffs, and scratches. This is magnetic, so it attaches itself directly to the rear of the metal screen. It also folds to create a stand, with numerous angles available so you can get the position just right.
Unfortunately, despite its magnetic nature, the case can’t be used as a stand for portrait mode. The magnets must not run the full width of the case as it seems to magnetize at the corners. However, thanks to its magnetism, the case can actually be removed completely from the screen. This makes cleaning the screen a cinch, plus it means you can easily fix the screen to an arm should you want to make it a more permanent fixture in the office and have it in a convenient place.
So, how does it perform?
OK, so I’m going to have a very brief moan, here. The screen doesn’t have an internal battery. With this in mind, the lack of a battery negates the portability somewhat. Why? Well, you can’t use it if you don’t have access to a power source. I mean, sure, you could carry a portable power bank around with you, too. But, I have no idea what sort of capacity you’d need in a battery to power the Lepow for a reasonable amount of time. If you ended up needing a 50,000 mAh power bank, then these are pretty unwieldy. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to carry one of those, the screen, plus a source device.
Aside from this annoyance, the screen is great. As mentioned, I use it in conjunction with a handheld console and it works well for this purpose. I notice no screen blur when I play scrolling 2-D platform games. Plus it replicates the 8-bit or 16-bit sound perfectly well via the side-speakers. Of course, you could plug a portable speaker into the screen if you want some more “oomph”, or some headphones if you need to stay quiet.
The screen can work in both landscape and portrait mode, as mentioned. However, bear in mind which ports you’re using when in portrait mode. A wire protruding from the edge you place down on a surface will obviously prevent portrait mode from being useable. Not only that, but you’ll need to plug it into your computer to change the orientation manually. This lack of autorotate is a little on the annoying side but the portrait mode isn’t perfect anyway. Particularly in relation to the port placement.
Should I buy one?
Well, really, that all depends on how you intend to use it. This would be a great device for a student who wants to take their laptop to the uni library but needs two screens. It would also be great in the car when you’re traveling with kids (or anyone else who gets bored easily). It would also be great as an extra screen for a Nintendo Switch or similar console, on the fly – you just need a power source if you’re gonna play it away from an electrical socket.
As portable screens go, I really like the Lepow Z1. It is ideal as a second screen and its lightness makes it eminently portable. If you’re after something a little more on the permanent side, then take a look at the best monitors available for under $200 and give your office more screen space.
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