USB-Based 7-Inch Secondary Displays

Sometimes one screen is just not enough to display everything you need or want to see. This is especially true for users who have lots of apps open at once or users who need a lot of screen real estate, such as for video or image editing. For such users, a second display is often the answer; but a second display can sometimes be overkill, represent a prohibitive expense, simply not fit on a desk with limited space, or a system just might lack a dedicated second video-out port. For these users, a small, inexpensive, USB-based, second display might be the answer. How small? How about 7-inches diagonal small. Which is what the two new MIMO Monitors that just became available in the U.S. offer.

We've been hearing about such, small-form-factor, USB-powered displays for a while now--ever since DisplayLink started publicly marketing its USB-based display technology a couple of years ago. In fact, DisplayLink was showing off a number of prototypes of these mini displays at IDF last August (you can see one of them in our IDF video slideshow here, about 1:22 in). Also, the Grandtec Grand HD Cinema USB-to-HDMI adapter we reported on last week is also based on DisplayLink technology. In a nutshell, DisplayLink allows you to output a video signal from a computer via a USB 2.0 port to a DisplayLink-capable display--you don't need a dedicated video-out port (you can get a good overview of some the current different DisplayLink-capable products here).

The MIMO UM-710 and MIMO UM-740 appear to be the first such USB-based, 7-inch monitors to start shipping in the U.S. (expect similar models from Samsung and D-Link, among other manufacturers, to also become available sometime this year). Both the 710 and 740 have a native 800x480 screen resolution, a 350cd/m2 brightness rating, a 400:1 contrast ratio, and both units can pivot for landscape and portrait display modes. The 740 includes additional features, such as an integrated webcam and microphone, and touch-screen capabilities. Both units weigh about 1.3-pounds and will work on Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Mac OS X systems. (In order to use the 740's touch-screen capabilities on a Mac, however, requires an additional $30 third-party driver. Windows users do not need to purchase a special driver to utilize the 740's touch-screen features, as the Windows touch-screen driver is included with the 740.)

Some may not see the appeal of a 7-inch secondary display--especially when budget, full-sized displays are available for not much more than the MIMO Monitors cost. But not everyone needs or wants a full-sized, secondary display. Some users might see such a display as "ideal for instant messaging and email clients, video gaming widgets, stock tickers, frequented applications, spreadsheets and documents, streaming media, videoconferencing, or various design tools within programs such as Photoshop." These monitors can be used to display frequently-used apps or windows that require only a small amount of screen space.

The MIMO 710 sells for $129.99 and the 740 sells for $199.99--both with free shipping--from the MIMO Monitors website. While MIMO is taking orders for both units now, they are both currently back-ordered until at least February 6th.