One inch makes all the difference.
We're living in an age of crippling convenience. As I stare out the 2x2 window of my editorial cell, I spy a man video taping the side of a building with a camera that's the size of a Lee Press-On Nail. As the mini film production continues, I notice that the gentleman is also on the phone - a mobile phone, no less. With all this wealth of information and entertainment literally at our fingertips (mobile phones, mobile computer and now Mobile Monitors), it seems we could easily evolve into a group of soft, long-fingered, spineless beings, good for one sole purpose: pressing the "on" button.
Well, if I am to be a sedentary editor who has his every whim electronically catered to, then I have a few provisos. I want my robotic harem stocked with fit video game playing goddesses, who can cook a mean chile relleno and properly cover my ass in Counter-Strike. I also want my replicator to be able to replicate itself so I can have one in every room of the house, and I want my PSOne portable monitors to have a larger screen size with true portability.
As far as the PSOne is concerned, Thrustmaster has become my savior…sort of. The Thrustmaster XL Screenmate answers the call for a larger screen (1 inch more diagonally), but ultimately fails to meet the demands of the gamer on the go. No recharging pack equates hallucinogenic mobility because you're always anchored to something. And the $150 price tag creates an ecstatic retailer while traumatizing your pocket book.
The XL Screenmate is a full-color TFT-LCD monitor. It attaches easily to the back of your PSOne with the help of the two included screws. One immediate and noticeable difference the XL has over the Interact Mobile Monitor is its hidden RF cord. It's just built into the hardware, so once you connect the XL to your PSOne, the RF plug is automatically inserted in the proper slot. Very easy!
Another difference is the absence of a metal stand with the XL Screenmate. This little bar allows you to view the Interact Mobile Monitor without having to attach it to your PSOne. While the Mobile Monitor stand doesn't provide the sturdiest support, it does give you an option, which the XL Screenmate does not. But yes, I know it's an incredibly small gripe.
Other than those niggling differences, Thrustmaster has brought us virtually the same monitor, shaped slightly different, with an extra inch for juvenile locker room bragging rights. You still get volume, brightness and picture controls as well as the all-too-useful headphone jack. And I can't forget the one item that makes this diamond in the rough nearly mobile - the car adapter, which draws power from your automobile's cigarette lighter. Very cool!
But the extra inch is the Screenmate's true crowning achievement. Who knew an added inch would bring such visual splendor and clarity? (There are so many jokes there, but today I will be an adult.) With this monitor, you no longer need to hover 3 inches from the display just to see what you're doing in Tony Hawk 2. The Screenmate is just what Dr. Game Geek ordered. Now if they could only figure out how to cut the cord...
In the end, the Screenmate turns out to be a great product, though the lack of PSOne portability (ie. battery pack) hurts. The color is sharp, the sound is clear and although it's not actually mobile, the enjoyment comes in spades. Too bad you still have to pay more for the screen than you do for the PSOne. Well, at least you get more viewing area for your buck.
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