Wanting to extend the capabilities of your laptop computer and move across to multiple monitors laptop configuration? It is a general fact that multiple monitor set up helps productivity. The extra display space can significantly help any computer user in reducing clutter and moving from one application to another. Though this setup is more common among desktop users, laptop users also have couple of options to get the same benefits.
Adding the Second Monitor
If you are limited by your current screen size and are looking to better manage your applications and work environment, then adding a second monitor to your laptop is not difficult and may be just what you need to get optimum performance from professional applications.
No matter how big your laptop screen is, you can always increase your screen real estate by plugging in an external monitor to your laptop so you essentially have a multi-monitor configuration. There are some steps to go about this and you also have several options available depending on your available space.
Finalizing the Physical Setup
A common and ideal multiple monitors laptop setup is simply placing the monitor next your laptop display as close as possible. After all, the whole purpose of having a multi-monitor configuration is to add more space for managing different windows and multiple desktop icons and widgets.
Putting the screens close together lets you see both screens from where you are sitting and easily bring windows and objects from one screen to another.
Depending on the size of your laptop and physical look of your external monitor, you might need an accessory like a laptop stand just to keep the screen leveled with the monitor. Although the configuration is entirely up to you, it is more comfortable to look at if the bottom parts of the screens are properly aligned. Once you are satisfied with your setup, connect your monitor to your laptop using a compatible cable.
Many modern laptops have a VGA port or an HDMI port. Some laptops may even have both but bear in mind that laptop manufacturers will abandon the VGA port in 2015 so it is best to get a monitor that supports HDMI if plan on getting one for your multi-monitor laptop setup.
Once you know what ports your monitor and laptop support, simply purchase a cable that can connect both ends together. A simple VGA cable should do the trick because monitors come with them.
Setting the Dual Screen Options
Windows should acknowledge both screens once you established a connection but the exact result can depend on your laptop's GPU.
You should be able to see what options you can set by checking control panel and launching your GPU configuration tool such as the NVIDIA Control Panel. But if you are using Windows 7, you can easily see the dual screen options by simply right-clicking the desktop and clicking "Screen Resolution". From there, you can drag the screen boxes to mimic your physical setup and click the "OK" button when you are satisfied. It is best to make sure that each of the screen's resolutions is maxed out so you can really make the most of out of your configuration.
Selecting the main display is also important because your main display will always have the taskbar there and any full screen applications will prioritize your main display. Basically the screen that you look at most should serve as your main display.
More Ways to Get Multiple Display for your Laptop
Here are more ways to enjoy dual or multiple monitors laptop setup, including portable and travel solutions for people on-the-go and for employers with staff working on laptop-based workstations.
Android and iPad Tablets as External Monitors
ViewSonic VSD241 (image from Amazon)
Believe it or not, you can use your handheld computing devices such as Android and iPad tablets as extra and external monitors for your laptop, whether it’s a PC or Mac OS X laptop. There are apps that allows you to connected these two computers and use the screen space of the tablet as your second monitor. These apps work through a virtual video device driver which transmits the required updates for the screen to the tablet. It will then translate the received data stream and render information to the screen – giving you a highly portable handheld monitor wherever you go.
ScreenSlider is a good app that can make Android tablets compatible with Windows laptops. For iPads on the other hand, there are DisplayLink and Maxivista. DisplayPad is also another app that can make iPad and other Apple ubiquitous work with Mac laptops. While Air Display can work in both Android and iPad tablets with PC or Mac computers.
These apps work best in office productivity tasks and web surfing, though no one has claimed to work with video playbacks. To save bandwidth, you may want to turn off user interface frills such as Windows Aero when in use.
The hardware restriction that comes with iPad means the app can use the tablet through WiFi. Android on the other hand, just recently added the iDisplay App to make their tablets capable of supporting direct USB connection. For wireless connectivity convenience, you should always remember that WiFi connectivity will not be always available when you are on-the-go. Fortunately for Windows 7 users, there is the Connectify, an app that gives laptops Hotspot access for the Android tablets.
Portable USB Monitors
Corporate professionals such as auditors and consultants, whose job may frequently require working in different places, can definitely take advantage of portable USB monitors to improve efficiency and productivity. DisplayLink first developed this technology – compress video data through USB cord, where it will be uncompressed and decoded in a specialized chip made by the very own company.
With a DisplayLink chip embedded in LCD monitor and draw power from USB interface, many manufacturers were able to develop portable monitors that can slip through a size of a laptop bag. Moreover, the innovation of faster CPUs and higher bandwidth availability of USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 encouraged the development of more efficient models of portable monitors, which can even support video playback on external displays.
(image from Amazon)
Some of the good models available in the market today are the Field Monitor Pro and Lenovo ThinkVision LT1421 USB Monitor. Both models are lightweight and compact and draw power through a USB port. ThinkVision and other models provide multiple display options by equipping their products with two-pronged USB cable to provide enough power through the USB port.
Dedicated DisplayLink Adapter
(image from Amazon)
DisplayLink also has a good product for laptop-based workstation; a dedicated DisplayLink adapter can setup a multiple monitors laptop configuration where you can connect up to six displays. Since this technology only consumes a fraction of its host’s processing cycles, one disadvantage is that, it may not perform well in underpowered systems or in multiple large monitors, as opposed to solutions that makes use of dedicated display adapters.
There are indeed quite a handful of ways to get a multiple monitors laptop configurations setup. Many options will require you to purchase tools like additional adapters or even extra appliances and gadgets aside from the actual LCD monitor you need. Remember that there are no hard and fast rules for this set-up, the ideal solution still depends on your preferences and needs.
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