Display in Action
The Software aspect to drive the FingerVU 706 consists of three separate software applications. First off, there is the DisplayLink driver which allows the operating system to use the unit as a secondary display. Then there is the FingerUI software from Soundgraph, which is made specially for their touch screen devices. Upon installing the application, it starts up automatically and allows you to select any supported secondary screen to display the interface. You may even connect more than one touch screen at a time and use them all simultaneously. Upon "connecting" to the screen, the FingerVU logo is shown. Tapping it with your finger opens up the graphical user interface.
Soundgraph has opted for buttons all around. The main ones are on the left, while anything pertaining to the settings is lined up on the right edge of the screen. In the center you have various pages of shortcuts on form of buttons. We won't go into detail with all of them, but will focus on a few instead. The default configuration has three pages which you may flip through by simply flicking them up or down with your finger. It quickly became clear that Soundgraph has chosen a resistive screen for their FingerVU series, as you are required to apply some force so that the LCD will accept the input. I instintively looked for a small stylus, but none are included. Maybe Soundgraph should incorporate a pen into the frame of the FingerVU - in case the user needs it.
While there are various panels available right away - with the option to add your own or sort them in a fashion of your choosing, they default ones tend to be of the same type. There are various news links to the Associated Press, CNN, MSNBC, Yahoo News, USA Today just to name a few. Hitting one of them - with the CNN channel being pictured above. It shows you one news item after another, with the possibility to go into greater detail if something interests you. The two included search options, Google and YouTube open a simple, very large search box in which you may type your query with the traditional computer keyboard. There are various informative applications as well like ones for the world time or weather. Both are animated in some form, with the seconds counter moving nicely along, while the weather widget also cycles to the forcast for the next few days.
There is also an application for writing down notes or just scribble around for the fun of it. I tried writing "Hello TPU". Kindly note the perfect replication of the TPU "power" logo, nearly indistinguishable from the one on our main page. Overall the software is quite responsive, but I did notice a few unexplained freezes, during which the screen did not accept any inputs, but sounds from the application were relayed to the computer speakers without any delay. These only happened with Windows 7 on my main workstation PC, but the problem was solved after updating the graphics card drivers. The testing station and the Macbook Pro both had no such problems right out of the box.
iMedian HD Application
The iMedian HD software is part of most - if not all - Soundgraph displays and products. It succeeds the iMedian application and aims to replace the Windows Media Center functionality or add such a feature to systems lacking the MCE extensions. I had a hard time figuring out how to launch the application, so that it would display properly on the FingerVU 706 instead of my 30 inch Samsung LCD. Turns out you are required to run FingerUI first and then select it through that application. It will then use the 7 inch display as the only screen real estate. To may add folders to be watched for each type of media - music, pictures & video. The software than searches through these folders and subfolders and display its findings for you to select and listen to or view. You may also use TV tuners and listen to radio with the iMedian HD - assuming you have compatible hardware in your PC. This could be an interesting area of use, as a small 7 inch TV running on the side is certainly rather useful.
Once you have let iMedian HD know where you have your various collections, you may scroll through them with the right up and down arrows. Selecting something is done by hitting the arrow pointing to the right, while returning to the previous menu is achieved by hitting the one pointing left. This makes it all very straight forward and simple to use. The only gripe I have is with the floods of information you have on a small screen like this. Listening to music is a joy with the FingerVU. It makes it easy to shuffle through the collection without cluttering the main, working screen with any applications. Another nice touch is the automatic slide show functionality, which displays the pictures in one of your folders with a random sound track from your music collection. The above image is just a random one I had floating around in my Pictures folder.
Watching a video is done the same way as selecting a music file. Simply scroll to the folder of your choice, select the file and within seconds the video will play. Above is a trailer of "Better Of Ted". The video is show on the full 7 inches of the display, while the controls are displayed over the actual video. the HDTV clip played back smoothly and there was no visible ghosting in the scenes. Thanks to the LED backlight, the illumination across the display is excellent and colors are very good for such a screen.