Extra screen: iMo Pivot Touch 7" monitor

Research shows that the more monitors you have, the more productive you are. That holds true for the iMo Pivot Touch 7-inch USB monitor ($200, shipping 1/18/10), plugging into your Mac or PC's USB port, and then giving you a bright and sharp 800x480 full-color touchscreen. We connected this little pivoting display, used it in both landscape and portrait modes, and found it to be a useful addition to our desktop real estate.

After you plug the monitor into a USB port, you install the DisplayLink and Touchside software, enabling the touchscreen and USB video functions. After a bit of fiddling, I had it working, but after my computer went to sleep, the software crashed every time the PC was awakened. Sure, that software has a tough job, grabbing the video from the graphics card and sending it out to this display — but it doesn't do that job very well.

The touchscreen software fared better, obeying touch commands as if I were using a mouse. However, the Mimo Pivot Touch's resistive touchscreen seemed cheaply made, as if a piece of plastic had been stretched across the screen. Perhaps I've been spoiled by the capacitive touch screen on the iPhone, but this is nowhere near as responsive. It was barely usable, and I didn't care for all the fingerprints left behind after touching it and dragging things around.

Besides those two serious flaws, it's fun to have a third monitor, and because it works just like any other display, you can drag any windows onto it. I quickly found a variety of uses for it. It's perfect for showing a live video window, and in portrait mode, it works well with a Twitter feed. I enjoyed creating a virtual Chumby and placing it in that display. And when editing video with Adobe Premiere, it's convenient to drag a bin of video clips into it.

Perhaps it was our 64-bit Windows 7 system with two 30-inch displays that confused the monitor's software, but after testing this pivot display for a few days, despite its flaws, we still found it usable. In fact, I liked it so much, I get used to the sleep/crash routine, where my displays would flash and hesitate for a few minutes before finally righting themselves, and all I needed to do was unplug and plug the Mimo monitor back in. I suppose if you hang long enough, you get used to it, though. Still, this is unacceptable. Unless you're willing to fiddle with buggy software, you might want to avoid spending the $200 on this monitor until Mimo gets around to fixing the software flaws.

Via Mimo Monitors