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Matrox DualHead2Go

Run two displays from your notebook computer By John Virata

Notebook computers have a lot going for them. They are more powerful than ever, are portable, so you can take them virtually anywhere, and are showing up with more screen real estate, up to 17-inch LCDs on some models. There are times, however when a dual monitor setup is more efficient than single monitor solutions, and that is where desktop systems have outshine'd their notebook counterparts, especially when it comes to content creation software that require the maximum real estate possible.

No longer is the dual display setup the domain of the desktop system. Matrox Graphics has come up with a solution that enables you to drive two displays with a notebook computer. Called the DualHead2Go, the Matrox hardware device comprises the DualHead2Go input/output box, power cord, and a VGA cable. the DualHead2Go features a VGA input on the front of the box and two VGA outputs on the rear of the unit.

DualHead2Go unit includes a VGA cable and power adapter.


Setup
Setup of the DualHead2Go involves plugging the VGA cables of your displays into the rear of the DualHead2Go input/output box, plugging one end of the included VGA cable into the front of the DualHead2Go and the other end into the VGA port on your notebook computer, attaching the AC adapter and then changing the settings of the notebook graphics adapter to 1024x768 and the refresh rate to 60Hz. Shut down the computer and then attach the DualHead2Go power cord into an available socket. Restart and adjust the settings so the computer can accept multiple monitors. That is pretty much it. You can further adjust the resolution up to 2560 x 1024 if you wish. Minimum system requirements are a notebook computer with a single VGA output connector and Microsoft Windows 2000 or Windows XP operating system.

Matrox DualHead2Go running Adobe Encore DVD 2.0.

Running the displays
To test out the DualHead2Go, I ran Adobe Encore DVD 2.0 on an Alienware notebook computer running the NVIDIA GeForce Go 6600. The displays were Gateway FPD 1830 19-inch LCD displays with analog/digital connections. With the DualHead2Go, I was able to span the Encore DVD workspace across both displays, which enabled me to extend the length of the Timeline of Encore DVD. The displays are further configurable via the Matrox PowerDesk software. Supported maximum resolutions for both displays are 2048 x 768 resolution at 60, 75, and 85Hz refresh rates and 2560 x 1024 resolution at a 60Hz refresh rate.

First Impressions
The DualHead2go is an ideal solution for those who travel with a notebook computer and have access to a pair of like displays at the final destination. Although you can probably run the DualHead2Go with two different display types, Matrox recommends that you use identical displays, or at least displays that support the same resolutions. Keep in mind as well that the DualHead2Go supports only VGA connections, so if your display is digital, you might have issues. Also, Matrox has a supporting page that enables you to test out your specific notebook computer to determine compatibility with the DualHead2Go, as not all notebook computers/graphics chips are supported. Most Intel integrated graphics systems are supported.

In addition to notebooks, nothing keeps you from running the device on a desktop system, as it will work with a desktop configuration as well, provided it passes the compatibility test. The Matrox DualHead2Go ships with a two year warranty and lists for $169. For more information, visit www.matrox.com/graphics.


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John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at jvirata@digitalmedianet.com
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