NOTE: This review was written using the DisplayLink 5.2.20937 Drivers on Windows 7 x64 RTM. Be sure to scroll to the bottom in their forums, as that's where the new stuff is.
I switched to three monitors over two years ago and I can't go back. I replaced those CRTs with LCDs a year later when I rebuilt my home office and added a fourth monitor. I moved that fourth monitor over to my Mame Arcade Cabinet later and have been using a 24" and two 22"s ever since.
However, then Twitter happened and darnit, I need another monitor. Maybe, hm, a tiny monitor. I could watch videos, Hulu, run Zune and all sorts of things. But is it cheap? Does it work? Can you run a monitor over USB? Let's see.
The idea is that the iMo Pivot is a 7" 700x480 portable monitor that uses USB as its buss. It works on XP, Vista and Windows 7, as well as Intel-based Mac OS X. It has drivers for all including 64-bit.
There's also a touch screen version, but I bought the $129.99 Pivot version without a touch screen. It can stand horizontally or vertically (hence, iMo Pivot) or it can be removed and stand up like a picture frame with a metal support.
I put mine underneath my 24" 16:9 monitor and while it's slightly dimmer (it has a 400:1 contrast ratio and 350 cd/m2) it's not a distracting difference against my bright Dell.
It's a real monitor and shows up as an extra one (number 3 below) in your Control Panel.
You could take Outlook and fold up the folders/calendars/toolbars and have a nice tidy place for your Email. Again, you've got 800x480 to work within.
Also, you can use this as your Twitter screen, putting your timeline either on the web or using TweetDeck or bDule.
Sometimes you just need a place to put your Watch Window. ;) While Visual Studio 2008 doesn't have the explicit support for Multiple Monitors like Visual Studio 2010, you CAN take your toolboxes and toolbars and move them over to your second monitor.
An interesting app that this is perfect for, although there were a few visual glitches is the Zune software. This little 800x480 monitor is a great place to park the Zune software and let it entertain you while you work, without using one of your larger monitors. Unfortunately, something about the Zune visualization being so "heavy" it causes the monitor to sometimes switch into a Video Optimized view. I only saw this with the Zune software and only once or twice, but the idea appears that you can set the iMo to favor framerate over clarity, so it'll switch seamlessly to 400x240 (basically big dots) when there's a LOT of fast pixels moving. Again, don't freak out, I don't think this is a big deal and I only saw it a few times. Also, you can CHOOSE to turn this on or off with their software driver.
It works great for Hulu (sorry folks outside the US) and YouTube videos. There is an "optimized for video" option, but I haven't had to use it. More on that option below.
I had no problem dragging an episode of Family Guy down onto the monitor, even using Hulu Desktop, and it worked seamlessly with minimal problem. It was smooth and watchable to the point where I was genuinely surprised it was all happening over USB.
I could totally see using this to watch DVDs or little things in the background while writing, well, blog posts like this.
Frankly, this is an amazing piece of hardware. It's $130 and it works exactly as advertised. I'm looking forward to taking it with me to conferences an using it as a countdown timer for my laptop while on stage! It'll be perfect as a second monitor in Hotel Rooms when I'm away from my "command center." This is a fantastic little monitor and I'm happy I bought it.
Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.