Technology for the Everyman
With plummeting monitor and multi-port video card prices, the possibility of having multiple monitors for your computer is no longer a rich man’s fantasy. There are any number of affordable solutions and possibilities for those looking to reap the benefits afforded by increased desktop space.
Two Ports are Better Than One
Your first option is to purchase a multi-port video card that supports multiple monitors. Most new mid-to high end cards will have at least two out ports and will support two or three monitors, while some specialty cards will support up to four. Video cards come in a couple of flavors (DVI and VGA), so you can either scratch the high-def itch or use your old VGA monitor. Some may even have both types on the same card.
Two Cards, Better Than One?
Another possibility is to run two separate video cards off of your motherboard. There are some limitations to this option. First, both cards must have chips from the same manufacturer. That means that you can only pair up two ATi or two NVidia cards. Also, the two cards have to use a different type of slot (AGP and PCI, for example). The only exceptions to this are cards that feature special technology allowing dual video cards to be paired up, like NVidia’s SLI technology, for example.
Add an Extra Port to Your Laptop
Laptop users have a different set of solutions. Most newer laptops come with some sort of video out option, so you can pair up your laptop screen with an external monitor to get an instant dual-monitor setup. If you’re looking for more, however, the VTBook DVI PCMCIA card is a great option. This expensive, yet impressive solution creates an additional DVI-D port using your laptop’s PCMCIA cardslot. This port can be split using special dual head cables, allowing you to gain up to 3 additional monitor outputs.
Split the Signal with the Matrox DualHead2Go
For those looking to go with something a little bit more economical, there’s the Matrox DualHead2Go, a unique product that splits your signal externally, enabling multiple monitors with a completely external, hardware-based approach. This solution has been geared heavily towards business travelers who are looking for a way to experience the benefits of a multi-monitor desktop while on the road. One of the best features about this Matrox adapter is that it requires no hardware installation on the laptop itself, and the split video signal experiences absolutely no degradation or signal loss. Matrox has also included an online compatibility guide, so you can make sure it’ll work with your setup before you buy.