DOUBLE MONITORS

We’ve become quite taken with using two monitors. We mean two at once.

Using a small DualHead2Go box from Matrox (Matrox.com), we connectedDual Head 2 Go two flat-screen monitors to Joy’s main computer, running Windows Vista. It also works with Windows XP, 2000 and Mac OSX.

What we got was a display that stretched across both screens, literally giving us the big picture. That was fun to look at, but the part we thought more interesting and useful was being able to run different programs on the two screens. We could use the mouse to drag any icon from the desktop on one screen over to the other and open it there. Both screens remained fully operational. You can also drag open programs from one screen to the other.

Having two programs displayed at once lets you switch back and forth. A writer or researcher can have a word processor on one screen and notes or a browser on the other screen. You could work on one and watch the stock market or a sports event on the other. You can use and learn a new program while displaying the manual or an instructional video on the other screen.

We just love this for the office. Even though it takes up more desk space, what with the drop in monitor prices, it’s not that expensive. The two monitors we paid $1,000 each for a few years ago can now be had for less than $200.

Gamers love dual monitor displays, once again for the big picture, and that can be carried to three monitors, with a triple-head video splitter, for a kind of Triple Head 2 GoCinemaScope display. Some game programs are written to take advantage of this kind of setup, and you get to see not only the center of the action, but what’s happening on the periphery as well. The Matrox TripleHead2Go is so popular with gamers that it’s currently out of stock.

The Matrox DualHead2Go we reviewed retails for $229 and was designed to work with the new monitors that use DVI connectors. The triple head would be $299. Following Bob’s rule that “no matter waht you get, you have to get something else to make it work,” we went out and bought adapters to be able to connect our older VGA monitors. They cost $3 each.

There are other ways to go here, and you can skip having to use a junction box by buying a multi-socket video card that fits inside the computer. But that computer must have an additional video slot to accommodate the expansion, and not all do. There are cards that can handle from two to 10 monitors, and prices run around $150 to $800. Who would need 10 monitors connected to the same computer? you might ask. It’s very useful for distributing video to classrooms.

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