Nanovision Mimo UM-710 hands-on and impressions

The Mimo UM series USB monitors have been on our radar for a while now, so we were excited to get our hands on one and put it through the paces. The company sent us the base model UM-710, which sports the same 7-inch, 800 x 480 display as the rest of the line. Also available are the UM-730, which includes a webcam and a mic for, and the UM-740, a touchscreen variation of the 730. Read on for our brief impressions after spending a few days with the mini-display.

[Special thanks to The Gadgeteers for the display]

When we got the monitor out of the box (complete with the cheery words "Good Friend!" printed on its inner flap), the first thing we noticed was the monitor's plastic housing. Not that we were surprised, but this isn't a particularly robust piece of hardware. The monitor stand, however, has some heft to it -- although the monitor itself probably won't survive a fall off a high ledge, as long as it's screwed to its base and placed on a steady surface it's unlikely that anything beyond a direct hit is going to send it crashing to the floor.

As for the display itself, the picture was bright and crisp. When viewing an image with a black border, we did see quite a bit of light leaking out of the edges of the screen, but this wasn't at all noticeable with items that took up the whole 800 x 480 display. We did basically everything one can do with a computer monitor -- used it for a dedicated IM display as we went about the important business of blogging, used it as a digital picture frame for a couple hours, watched Serpico on it, even took Ableton Live and Propellerheads' Reason for a drive, utilizing the extra desktop (you can never have too much desktop) so we wouldn't have to keep toggling through the various open windows. The UM-710 was more than capable than fulfilling all of our needs.

We know what you're asking: "Why do I need a 7-inch monitor?" Well, a lot of you probably don't. And for a lot of you, it would be nice, but not worth shelling out $129.99. But for people who work with a number of apps on a daily basis and find desktop space to be at a premium -- especially those of us for whom two monitors is still not enough -- this guy is definitely worth a second look.