Multiple monitors used to be a luxury for the uber-geek or extreme office worker. Nowadays multi-mon is practically essential in the workplace, and even at home. Many people got used to the notion that multitasking required flipping through many windows, which is why the whole usability scheme of a “taskbar” became necessary. Now that desktop space is so inexpensive, people prefer to have all of their windows visible at the same time. Graphics professionals need multiple monitors just to have all of their tools available while still seeing the image they’re working on.
Regardless of your reasons, people are now used to running multiple monitors in everyday situations… but not every computer is equipped with multiple display ports. Some monster cards, like the Sapphire 4850 X2 reviewed here, have four DVI ports, which is more than enough for even Al Gore. Most add-on graphics cards only have 2 ports, and only one of them may be DVI. Notebooks (and netbooks) usually only have a single VGA port, if they have one at all. If only there was some way to upgrade your monitor and desktop space without opening your computer…
DisplayLink has the answer with their innovative USB to Graphics adaptors. These little devices are small little boxes that plug into a USB port, and then connect to any DVI or VGA monitor. The software uses your existing video card’s capabilities, so even full-motion video and 3D accelleration is still possible on your other monitors.
Traditional desktop systems use additional discrete graphics cards to power multiple displays. To lighten the load, the BVU160 provides significant benefits and energy conservations.
- A USB graphics solution such as the BVU160 uses 80% less power than a discrete solution
- Employees using multiple displays more than 50% more productive than those using a single display
- Now, with USB graphics technology, notebooks are just as effective and easy to use with multiple displays as dedicated PCs.
The BVU160 USB display adapter provides easy plug and play additional displays to your laptop or desktop computers. Supports DVI or VGA interfaces, providing high quality digital imaging up to 1600 x1200 32 bit True Color resolutions. With the BVU160 you can mirror or extend any display in any direction. This USB powered display device is fully integrated into the Windows operating system and is fully managed by the Windows Control Panel interface. The BVU160 allows easy plug and play installation and can determine the type, resolutions and key features of your display, ensuring a fast, easy, and error free setup.
- Easily add an additional monitor without opening your computer
- Supports up to 1600 x 1200
- Supports Widescreen resolutions
- Supports Video Playback
- Supports Extended Desktop, Mirror and Primary Modes
- Supports up to 2 Display Adapters simultaneously
- Compatible with DVI or VGA monitors
- Features DisplayLink Technology
- Hot Swappable; Add or remove monitor without rebooting
- USB Powered
- Supports analog video, DVI or FPI(LVDS)
The DisplayLink DL-120/DL-160 chips work their magic by reducing the connection process between display and device to a simple USB cable, enabling instant cloning or extending of a desktop among multiple displays. Featuring a video port – analog video, DVI or FPI (LVDS) – on one side and USB connectivity on the other, the DL-120/DL-160 can be used in designs ranging from displays to standalone accessories like docking stations and USB graphics adapters.
What’s a chip without the software? What’s the software without a nifty user interface? The engineers at DisplayLink have dedicated significant resources to identifying what works and what doesn’t in today’s device to monitor interactions. What they’ve learned has been applied to the following areas of DisplayLink’s network display architecture to create seamless communication between system, chip and interface:
- Performance-optimized display drivers
- Compression algorithms
- Compatibility testing with Windows XP, Vista and other operating systems and applications
- User interactivity with keyboard, mouse and display
- Multi-monitor usability features like clone and extend
On the next page we take a closer look at the device and its software…