The 2020 Lepow Z1-Gamut Portable Monitor Review

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A few months ago, I reviewed the 189$ Lepow Portable Monitor which was my first-ever portable monitor review, and honestly, I loved it. This time I am going to review their upgraded 2020 Lepow Z1-Gamut Portable Monitor which comes at a higher price and offers new features like the quantum-dot enhancement film. My review this time would be extra critical and just a heads up, the Z1-Gamut didn’t meet my expectations to be called a true upgrade over the previous models. Now, it’s easy to get confused by the names as Lepow has 4 different upgraded models but don’t worry, I will be leaving the Amazon link at the end of this review. So, let’s dive in.

First, comes the packaging. The Z1-Gamut comes in a white strong cardboard box with a plastic hardshell that has sections for each item that comes in the box. The previous Lepow monitor that I reviewed had a very flimsy, thin plastic casing that actually broke in transit, so good job on the Z1-Gamut, Lepow. The monitor comes with a plethora of accessories which include a screen protector and its applicator, a leather cover, 1 x USB Type C to Type C cable, an adapter with 1 x USB to USB type C cable, 1 x HDMI to HDMI mini cable, the user guide, and a warranty card. These are the same as the ones I received with the previous Lepow Monitor.

 

DESIGN

The Z1-Gamut comes in an aerolite black plastic body composed within a metal frame and features a brushed aluminum base at the bottom. This provides rigidity without significantly increasing its weight. I preferred this black theme over the previous black and silver combo as it made it look cheap. The included cable and the cover also come in black so that’s a nice touch. A little investment in design doesn’t hurt anyone so +points for Lepow there. The Z1-Gamut comes in at 0.34 inch thick and weighs 1.7lb which is pretty standard for a portable monitor these days. And, just like the old Lepow monitor, the Z1-Gamut also has thick bezels around the sides which aren’t a problem but it’s expected with an upgraded version. I do understand the Z1-Gamut has speakers and I/O ports on the sides which hinders from creating thin bezels but it can be avoided by having them on a separate panel on the back.

 

DISPLAY

I had big hopes from the Z1-Gamut as it has some advanced features like a quantum dot enhancement film, an upgraded display with 85% NTSC color space, and a higher peak brightness of 321nits but it didn’t deliver on those expectations. Before we break down the color reproduction issue, let’s take a quick look over some of the display features that I liked. The 320nits brightness, now that’s something you wouldn’t even find on some desktop monitor for 200$. Z1-Gamut also has my favorite choice for the type of display, which is matte as it helps minimize glare and lighting issues. One sweet addition is the HDR support which isn’t going to do any wonders for your viewing experience but having that support still counts. The Z1-Gamut features an IPS panel and a wide 178-degree viewing angle which guarantees better colors from all different angles and its good for watching content in a group. It comes in at 15.6 inches and rocks a Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution. Another handy dandy feature is the black level control option and I find it super useful while watching dark-themed movies or games that feature a low light environment.

Now, let me talk about the most important part and that is the color reproduction. First of all, lemme say that the factory color reproduction is just bad on the Z1-Gamut. Here’s where my biggest complaint comes in the picture, the Z1-Gamut has a better color gamut and has a quantum dot film but they don’t seem to do anything here, in fact, I found the Z1 to look worse than the previous model that I reviewed. Now it might be possible that the monitor I got was faulty or only mine had issues but I tested it with my phone and still found the red color problem.

Now let me tell you the process I went through finding and fixing this problem. This monitor has a big problem when it comes to displaying reds. First, I thought the red values were bumped up so it looked saturated but no, the red here actually looks like a saturated pink mixed with a slight red. Apart from that, the screen looked like it had a red tint too, so I turned down the red value on the monitor using the OSD but it won’t go away. I also noticed that the colors looked dark and dim and so I cranked up the brightness and the black levels all the way up but that didn’t solve it. Hence, I decided to fix the red color issue first. As I usually do, I tried adjusting the color levels for each R, G, and B values. Turning down red somewhat diminished the tint issue but in turn, it also made the monitor show cool (*no pun intended) colors. The blues and the greens dominated the screen and heavily affected how greys would look so I switched to the Windows Color Calibration option. Doing so, made it better but not enough to see a significant change in color accuracy.

Default OSD and default Nvidia Control Panel settings

Default OSD and with changed Nvidia Control Panel settings

Nvidia Control Panel Settings

On the verge of giving up, I decided to use a software called ‘ScreenBright’ as it gives you better options like Gamma, Hue, and Color Temp controls. With some tuning, I noticed a massive improvement and it solved almost all of the problems I had. However, what really helped me get the best out of the Z1-Gamut was the Nvidia Control Panel settings as now I am really happy with the viewing experience. Going through all of this was a headache but I am delighted as to how good my Lepow Z1-Gamut looks now. Lepow, If you are reading this, please have an expert on your team calibrate the Z1-Gamut lineup and roll out a display driver or an ICC color profile for regular/normal users as not everyone knows how to tweak any display settings. I also know that color is subjective and about the possibility that only my monitor may be defective so others mileage may vary. For people suffering from this issue, I have added some screenshots with my Nvidia control panel to use as a reference point and ScreenBright settings if they don’t have an Nvidia GPU in their system. 

Games looked and worked fantastic on the Z1-Gamut and the HDR support does come in handy for games that support it. However, to use that, you need to enable ‘Use HDR’ option from Windows Display settings, then switch to Auto mode on the OSD menu and then finally turn on the HDR option in your game. Personally, I still prefer to play games without HDR, and here’s why with a comparison of Borderlands 3 in 3 different settings. If you do want to use HDR, I would suggest using the Auto option rather than the 2048 option as 2048 tends to highly oversaturate things and is unreliable. I also tried the Z1-Gamut on my Samsung Galaxy S8 in both Dex mode and screen mirroring mode. Response time was decent in both modes and connecting was super easy but I still had the ‘red being displayed as a pink’ issue I mentioned earlier. However, there was no red tint on the screen and the viewing experience was significantly better on my phone than my PC prior to color correction. 

HDR turned off

HDR set to Auto mode

HDR set to 2048

 

CONNECTIVITY

Let’s call the Z1-Gamut a universal portable monitor as you can connect it to almost anything that you can think of. From PCs to game consoles and from phones to tablets, Lepow Z1-Gamut has got it covered. Also, you don’t need to worry about buying cables for everything as they come included with the box. Different devices need to be paired in different modes. To connect to your PC, you would need to use the HDMI to HDMI mini cable and also the USB to Type C power cable as it needs extra power to run. For some laptops with USB TYPE C ports, you can just use the USB to USB type C cable whereas for others you might need to use the same configuration as I listed above for a PC. It’s easier while connecting to phones as you just need the USB Type C to Type C cable. I don’t have either of the consoles(PS4, Xbox, or Switch), so I can’t speak about them.

On the right side, we have got 1 x USB Type C power port, the power button, and a multifunction rocker key to turn up/down the volume/brightness and which can also be used to navigate the OSD. On the left, Z1-Gamut provides 1 x HDMI mini port, 1 x USB Type C port, and a 3.5mm audio jack.

Samsung DEX Mode Screen Mirroring Mode

 

AUDIO

The Z1-Gamut comes with dual speakers on the side. I like this speaker placement compared to the ones on the bottom since the majority of the users use any portable monitor horizontally and if speakers are on the bottom, they get muffled. These speakers get decently loud but turn out to be inadequate while watching content that involves plain talking as vocals tend to be on the quieter side. I feel these speakers should only be used when you don’t have any other audio output devices. Even better, just use the audio jack provided on the monitor for a better experience.

 

ON-SCREEN DISPLAY (OSD)

The OSD comes with plenty of unique and useful features but also lacks others which can be found on other monitors at this price point. You get the options to control things like Brightness, Contrast, and Saturation; select Image modes and RGB values and some unique features like Black Level control and Blue light modes. The things that I feel lacking are Hue controls, Six Color controls, and Color Gamut controls. Plus, I would really suggest Lepow to upgrade the UI style and font and change the OSD position to either of the bottom corners of the screen.

 

VERDICT

I am pretty generous with my scores in product reviews unless I review something that has serious issues. The Lepow Z1-Gamut gave me high hopes especially in its display department as it’s an upgraded model with quantum-dot film technology and a better color gamut but it failed to deliver them. Apart from that, the Z1-Gamut nails every department for what it costs and so with my honesty, I would give the Lepow Z1-Gamut a 7 out 10. As I have said earlier in this review, only my monitor can have issues so I might change my score in the future if I get to confirm with other users but till then its gonna be a 7. Even after all of this, I would still recommend the Z1-Gamut for buyers who wouldn’t mind tweaking some color settings as, after color correction, the Z1-Gamut truly shines at its best. If you are interested in buying this monitor, click here and it will take you to the Amazon product page where you can get it for just 199$. You can get it for just 170$ as of right now, Lepow is offering a 30$ discount coupon on Amazon.

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