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Nanovision Mimo 7-Inch Mini Monitor Hands-on Review

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A few weeks back, I came across these cool looking Nanovision Mimo mini computer displays. At the time, there was no way to buy these minuscule monitors outside of Korea. Now, for the first time, you can buy these displays in North America. And thanks to the guys over at The Gadgeteers, I’ve now had a chance to put one of these little LCD screens through its paces.

nanovision mimo displays

While Nanovision is making several models of these diminutive displays, the one I got to try out was the UM-710, which is the most basic of the three models available stateside. While the UM-710 ($129 USD) only works as a secondary monitor, the UM-730 ($169 USD) adds a webcam and microphone, and the UM-740 ($199 USD) ups the ante by adding a touchscreen.

mimo box

The model I tested came in a high-gloss black plastic that’s reminiscent of the exterior of the Playstation 3. The black model is definitely a bit of a fingerprint magnet, so you might want to check out the white model if you’re anal retentive about those things. Personally, I prefer the black model, as I think it looks cooler on my desktop. (Plus, it’s the only color currently available outside of Korea).

mimo boxed

Setup of the Nanovision screen couldn’t be much easier. Just attach the display to the included stand with a simple turn of the shiny chrome thumbscrew, install the included driver software, and plug in the included USB cable between the display and your computer (the display comes with a dual USB connector in case one port doesn’t provide sufficient power). Thanks to the USB 2.0-based connection, you can connect multiple monitors without need for an additional video card. Keep in mind that each display you add will eat up somewhere around 50 to 75 MB of your system memory.

mimo install a

The drivers I tested were a pre-release of the English language version of Nanovisions DisplayLink Core software. I only got to test the Windows version, but OS X support is also supposed to be included. The software installed easily and without much incident on my Dell Latitude laptop, running Windows Vista Pro. The only challenge with the driver was that after installation, it messed with the resolution of my main display, and I had to reboot. After the reboot, all went smoothly, and the mini Mimo display started to work as a mirror of my main screen. A simple tick of the “Extend” option on the included task bar application turned the external display into its own unique desktop. You can decide whether the screen is extended from the left, right, top or bottom of your primary display. For more precision, you can tweak this using the Windows standard multiple monitor properties controls.

mimo restart

When I first connected the display, I was immediately impressed by the sharpness of the 7-inch 800×480 widescreen display, which packs a singnificantly higher pixel density than typical PC monitors. There was a little bit of flicker when I first plugged in the display, but bumping up the backlight control on the side of the display by one or two notches immediately resolved this issue. The photo below doesn’t nearly do justice to the sharp focus of the diminutive screen.

nanovision display screengr

The Mimo displays all feature a pivot feature, which lets you rotate the monitor from landscape to portrait mode with just a simple twist of your wrist. It took me a few minutes to figure out that the display doesn’t auto-sense the pivot. Even though the box says “auto-pivot”, it turns out that you do need to go into the task bar app and set the rotation manually. It’s unclear to me if there is or isn’t a motion sensor inside the screen and if this is a software bug or just bad labeling on the box. Either way, the display worked quite well in either orientation once I figured this out.

mimo portrait mode

I did find that off-axis viewing angles of the screen were quite a bit better in landscape mode than portrait mode, however, so you’ll need to make sure the display is oriented properly if you’re operating in portrait mode for optimal brightness. After playing with both modes, I decided to stick with landscape since I could watch videos or open web pages most efficiently on the screen in that orientation.

mimo photoshop screens

A couple of minor things to be aware of with the Mimo. First off, I couldn’t find a way to apply color correction to make the display match my primary screen. While there might be a way to do this with Windows color profiles, I couldn’t figure out a way to make that work. Nanovision should consider including color correction software to make this possible. One other minor issue is the stand. The arm only has a single pivot point, which somewhat limits the angles you can set the display to. Also, if you swing the arm back too far, it’s very top-heavy and can easily tip over. That said, with proper adjustment of the arm, it’s not a big deal. There’s also no cord-control for the small USB cable, so it does interfere a bit with the sleek lines of the monitor.

mimo photoshop palettes

At first, I wondered how much I’d use a display like this. But after just a few hours with the Mimo, I was hooked. I pawned off all of my Windows Sidebar gadgets, instant messenger windows, and used the display as a holding place for extraneous palettes in Photoshop whenever I worked on larger images. The mini-screen is exceptionally sharp, so it’s even possible to read entire web pages on the display while working on other documents on your larger screen.

mimo windows sidebar

Overall, I was really impressed with this pint-size monitor. It took just a couple of minutes to get set up, and it looks really great (especially in landscape mode). While you probably wouldn’t trust the color accuracy of the display for image retouching work, it’s more than capable of handling the secondary display usage that it was designed for. And while I wondered about USB’s ability to handle fast-motion data, I managed to play back full-screen video clips on the display with not the slightest stutter.

mimo video example

If you’ve ever find yourself running out of space on your computer screen, you need one of these. If you just want a cool toy for your desktop, you need one too. I’m already feeling like I can’t live without one, and want to order the touchscreen UM-740 as soon as its available. It’s already made me more productive, and it just looks really damned cool sitting alongside my other monitor. To get your hands on one, head on over to The Gadgeteers, who have worked hard to bring these slick little displays to North America for all of us to enjoy.





Comments (38):

  1. technabob says:

    BTW, Mac users should note that the OS X version requires an Intel processor-based Mac. Power PC users need not apply.

  2. sakanagai says:

    Out of curiosity, what prevents this monitor from functioning as a primary display? From this review, it sounds like the monitor is software driven which may be the cause. But if these monitors show up in display properties in Windows, shouldn’t you be able to use it solo (even if the screen is a little cramped)?

    • Geckosticky says:

      This does work, I’ve been running a laptop with a broken/removed primary screen using a mimo for the last few months… it doesn’t flash in until you are completely loaded into windows, but no significant issues. My battery life has even been slightly improved.

  3. technabob says:

    I didn’t get a chance to test that configuration. That said, once you’re booted into Windows, I don’t see any reason that you couldn’t use the Windows display properties panel to set one of these to the primary position.There are some special DisplayLink USB drivers need to load before the display activates. So if you were to boot up from a cold start, you wouldn’t see anything on the screen until Windows has completely loaded, which might be weird.

  4. Nicholas Adams says:

    These would be particularly sweet if they had a battery pack option so you could use the touchscreen version as a remote for your HTPC…

  5. Allen says:

    I wonder if it would work with XPe. It would be perfect with a thin client.

  6. sakanagai says:

    @Nicholas Adams: There are USB power supplies on the market so you may be able to use the second USB dongle for power routing the other through a wireless USB hub.

    • ProDesigner87 says:

      This is exactly what I’m trying to do with mine at the moment. The problem seems to be that I need to find a wireless USB kit that has isochronous support (I think it needs this since it is a monitor). I’ve found this : http://www.cablesunlimited.com/products/Prod_Individual3.aspx?groupcode=I4098 but it does not support isochronous. There is a more expensive option http://www.cablesunlimited.com/products/Prod_Individual3.aspx?groupcode=I4479 but this does not seem to have USB outlet – only monitor and HDMI (I wonder if there is an adaptor?). The other problem is both require power (5V) I guess I could power that with the same battery pack that I use to power the screen but I’m unsure wither plugging the power pack into the secondary backup USB line on the Mimo would work or wither you need power going into the primary USB line (I’m guessing the seconardy line is connected to the power lines on the main cable alone and not the signal lines…) Any thoughts?….I’ll keep searching for something more appropriate.

  7. Verbatim says:

    I’m very interested in this product, any chance these guys will ship to europe?

    • Simon Romin says:

      i’m from the UK and i bought mine at a good price from http://www.carcomputer.co.uk but i am pretty sure they ship in europe. they’ve got fast service too so i’d recommend them.

      i’m a designer and actually find my mimo um-740 really useful to store my palettes and select them by touching them.

  8. nero says:

    how cool is this screen, and with it being usb driven it sounds like the perfect candidate for being modded into the front of a pc, forget fan controllers, one of those fancy touch screen models controlling all your over clocking tools and system monitors in realtime in front mounted mini screen coolness

    • Paul says:

      This is such a great tool/add-on to have, can’t believe someone didn’t think about it earlier. Does it come with a carrying case so that we can take it on the road? I can see this being the perfect on-the-road partner to a small netbook like the MSI Wind or Asus EEE, it’d be great when you needed more screen real estate, it seems compact and thin enough (when folded) that you could bring it along just about anywhere.

      Paul

      • technabob says:

        Sorry, no carrying case in the box. It breaks down pretty small, but not completely flat. I think you could probably find a case for a portable dvd player and that would do the trick though.

        • Paul says:

          technabob,

          Can you give me the approximate dimensions of the nanovision when folded (L X W X H)?

          Thanks,
          Paul

        • Paul says:

          Technabob,

          Also, when it folds up, is the screen exposed or protected/covered?

          Thanks,
          Paul

          • technabob says:

            It actually doesn’t “fold up” at all. There’s a small stand on the back that unscrews and can be placed separately in your bag. As for the dimensions, I’ll have to dig around for those, as I already returned my review unit, and don’t have it here to measure.

  9. KFunk says:

    That’s one messy task bar, you have way too much in quick launch and the tray! Cleaning that up would probably help you more with productivity than adding a MIMO.

  10. Brian Kim says:

    Just picked this up and it’s pretty sweet. I’ve actually long thought it would be really cool if someone offered something like this. But my idea would have been to have some sort of clip to attach to the laptop monitor, so that it could be connected w/o a stand (much like the new Lenova laptop that has a built in secondary monitor).

    Just out of curiosity, I’m not sure what the 2nd usb dongle is supposed to do? At first I thought you needed both plugged in to power the display, but I realized you only need one, so what’s the other for?

    • technabob says:

      The second USB dongle is only used if you’re running on a system that can’t provide sufficient display power through a single USB cable. If it’s working on a single cable, just leave it unplugged.

  11. Brian Kim says:

    BTW, did you notice that your stand is setup backwards from the 1st photo? I actually set mine up the same way you. Seems more stable that way.

  12. technabob says:

    Just so you guys know, there’s a distributor going around using the name mimomonitors, and they are not in any way affiliated with Mimo. I’ve personally done business with the guys over at The Gadgeteers and have been very pleased with their service.

  13. Snipert1 says:

    Will this function with linux?

    I was thinking of trying to use it as a portable screen for when I have to work on my clients servers instead of havign to disconnect a nearby monitor to use.

    (they are file servers so as a rule don’t need a monitor and I just ssh in, but every once in a while i need direct access to the machine and this would be perfect if it can function as a primary monitor in linux)

  14. Snipert1 says:

    Thank you very much for the info.

    Any recommendations for a portable vga connected display?

  15. Snipert1 says:

    Thanks again.

  16. john annis says:

    I purchased one for my intel Mac. I cant figure out how to connect it. Using the single or double usb, still no go. Apple support says I need a dvi cable. MIMO says no. My mac is an IMAC 24.
    Thanks

  17. HNKelley says:

    I was just given a Mimo 710 for my birthday! YAY ME! I saw these when they came out and couldn’t quite justify spending on them, but really wanted one, so I’m happy.

    You gave a good review and I agree: the image is really sharp and definitely bright enough for my tastes. Setup and install was a breeze. I have it on my nightstand displaying Vista gadgets for me: clock (multi-timezone); my GCal; local weather; a slide show.

    I do have one odd problem:
    When running this with the lid of my fully-updated Vista Home Premium (64-bit) HP Pavillion dv7 laptop closed, then open the lid… the screen settings change from ‘Extend’ to ‘Mirror’ and moves all my gadgets around. I’ve turned off the screen saver, deactivated all power-saving for the screen settings, and told the laptop to ‘do nothing’ when the lid is closed, but it still does this. Any suggestions?

    Thanks!

  18. Angel Baker says:

    the design of the MSI Wind is similar to the basic netbooks you can find around. the price point of this netbook is cheaper than acer or dell netbooks *

  19. Simon Romin says:

    Any idea if I can still pick up one of these babies?

    Nanovision have changed the design over time but I need this design BADLY!

    I used to buy them from http://www.carcomputer.co.uk but now they say it has been discontinued:

    http://www.carcomputer.co.uk/shop/monitors/usb-monitors/nanovision-mimo-um-740

    Any suggestions lads?

    Romano

  20. FaTe says:

    http://www.thinkgeek.com still have them, deliver to Europe and at my door usually with-in 3 days of ordering (USA > Netherlands)

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