Review: Mimo Monitors - iMo Pivot
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 Big Idea
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.
Twitter or Email Screen
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. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.
BTW - if your looking for a timer to run on your laptop check out Dinner Timer Lite for a little app I threw together as a count down timer for when I was cooking dinner (hence it's name!), it's got some functionality you might like for using in presentations - clear display, progress bar, overrun timer, alerts when your getting close to the time, some cool sounds, twitter integration and some other stuff - and the price is good as well - it's free! Also it's written in C# naturally :-)
I though in Vista and Win7 all your video cards (and this is really just a software video card) have to run the same driver. That is why you can't mix ATI and Nvida Cards.
@Scott - Dude, you should thank my wife for getting me one for my birthday so I could recommend it to you on Twitter. ;)
Also, is the screen glossy? Or matte?
My 710 has adjustable height and a glossy screen. I'm a bit interested in knowing if the iMo has those as well.
The icon grouping functionality is made possible from a Stardock application called Fences. You can find it here.
You are making a mockery of all the wonderful window management in 7 :)
You could have one mounted vertically for PDF reading...
No doubt, my problem is that my computer is 7 years old and has only one processor. My USB disk drives really make a dent in available CPU time.
After my boss saw me swipe a spare monitor for this task he soon followed suit!
Anyway the review sounds great and I was very tempted, unfortunately I live in England and they aren't out here, nothing in Google or on eBay so I guess they just haven't made it yet....
The only bad thing about multi-monitor is the extra effort you have to go to with getting decent wallpaper! In fact thats something I never thought about - does windows 7 have per monitor wallpaper support?
I've had great results with the UVGA DisplayLink Display Adapter at work to handle a 3rd monitor. The only downsides I've seen so far is that it doesn't play nice with undock; I always end up having to reboot when I reconnect. Not really a big deal imho but something to note if you undock and dock a lot.
At home I'm still at 2 monitors - a 24" dell and a 17" NEC that's on its last legs. Next project - the Ergotron DS100 Quad Monitor desk stand :)
Just my opinion based on my personal experience, but I would definitely stay away--at least until they work the kinks out in a later version (as this was just released on Dec 3rd).
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