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A Forum for Sharing Knowledge about Technology


by Jeremy Gorman

DisplayLink (www.displaylink.com), a Silicon Valley company with R&D facilities in England, has developed multiple monitor adapters that are self-powered by the USB 2.0 port.  The devices allow the PC user to extend their desktop display across 2 or more screens. More importantly for the laptop computer user, it permits the two entirely separate video displays on two monitors at the same time. This flexibility allows the laptop to be used to present one view to an audience and another to the presenter. While other devices with this capacity have been available for some time, this one, developed by one of the pioneers of the webcam, is one of the first devices to be completely portable. Very compact in its design, measuring only 3.25” x 2” X .75” and weighing 2 ounces with its 36” USB to mini D cable,  it seems made for the laptop user especially when no external power supply is required .

The adapters come in models that output video signals to older VGA displays or the newer, high resolution DVI displays with up to 1600 x 1200 pixels. The higher resolution permits fine detail, like small spreadsheet cells to be seen, even when projectors are used for large rooms. DisplayLink is an original equipment manufacturer, meaning they don’t sell their products directly to the consumer but rather sell their technology to others. Manufacturers that use their chips include Samsung, IO Data, Toshiba, Kensington and several British firms.  Installation of the demo model was effortless; requiring about 20 seconds for the 7.3 Meg driver file to self- install  and it took only another 20 seconds to click on the tray icon to set up the additional monitor to either extended or split modes


The most frequent user for the most presenters will be to show huge spreadsheets (boring but all too common) in the extended mode or to present PowerPoint slides in the split mode. An often overlooked feature of PowerPoint 2002 and later is the ability to support multiple monitors. Simply clicking on the Set Up Show menu under the Slide Show tab will display the Multiple monitors option. If you chose Monitor 2 Default monitor, and check the Show Presenter View ( see below),  the slide show will appear on the second monitor while the primary display (usually a laptop), will display not only the slides but the speaker’s notes as well. This allows the presenter to look positively brilliant with completely scripted ‘off the cuff remarks’ and dazzling references.  The really ambitious, perhaps hyperactive, speaker could run other programs that will not been seen by the audience. Full control over slide advancement, animations and even the pen function that can circle and underline screen items until the audience nearly swoons with vertigo are still available. It is also possible to view the next slide before the audience does if you are blessed with less-than-perfect memory or no time to rehearse.  These adapters cost about $80 and $120 for the VGA and DVI versions respectively but they are sturdy, portable and can well help you present all types of material in a much more polished, effective manner.


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