We’ve created an Imon-ster
So a stylish exterior isn’t quite matched by an interior that’s lacking in a number of areas, but there’s still more to talk about in the guise of the Moncaso 972’s headline feature, the 7in front-mounted touch screen. The screen is connected via a standard VGA cable that runs through the case and out of the back (through one of the seven expansion slots) and then to your graphics card. It also has a USB header for the touch screen’s input and when powered up is both bright and attractive, with Windows happily detecting it as a second screen.
You’ll need to install the Imedian iMon software, which detects the touch screen and enables it as a fully featured touch screen display to compliment your standard Windows desktop. When we say fully featured we mean it too – it’s able to display system status, memory usage, hard drive usage, network speed, the current weather, news feeds, browse files to play – almost everything.
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However, the push for a massive feature list seems to have come at the cost of customisation, with no way to change what the touch screen’s front page displays as default and a bafflingly deep and confusing menu system hidden beneath. While your initial reaction will undoubtedly be one of amazement it soon dawns on you that you might not always want to know what the weather is like in Seoul or what the latest stories on the BBC are, and frustratingly the LCD’s front end is locked into a continual rotation of such updates when not playing media.
However, the touch screen LCD comes into its own when playing media through a number of supported media players, including Windows Media Centre. While the video is displayed on the primary display (hopefully your TV) the Moncaso auto dims the front mounted LCD and displays a graphic equaliser and detailed file information about the currently playing video. It looks slick and works great, and while the practical use is questionable, the “geek appeal” is certain.
This is all helped by the included infrared remote control, which is fully Windows Media Center compliant and really helps to sell the 972 as an HTPC package, although this does mean that you’ll have the options of a mouse, keyboard, remote control, touch screen or front panel buttons to control your system.
While the LCD and its Imon software sway from the frustrating to the amazing, we have to question just how useful it is. The inclusion of the touch screen is the principal reason this case costs in excess of £450, yet the use of a decent Media Centre remote, like the one included almost entirely defeats the point. While the screen is fun to play with in the short term, realistically you’ll just want to control the system from afar, making the 972’s headline feature something of a letdown.