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Settling in the multi-monitor league

Last post 07-01-2007, 7:45 by icelava. 0 replies.
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  •  07-01-2007, 7:45 1522

    Settling in the multi-monitor league

    I have previously recorded my successful search for a suitable spacy desk (look how neat it was back then) to position my room computers. A year on, I am ready to make complete use of that real estate.

    Prior to retiring my five-year-old Dell Inspiron 4150, I attached to it an unused LCD monitor (the one next to the laptop on the left) as a secondary screen. I then realised, for my own self, why others have been enthusiastically promoting the use of multiple screen layouts. The reduction in window switching, which seems like a petty little matter, actually becomes a big thing; suddenly I was not suffering from claustrophobia with the laptop's mere 1024x768 measurement of a coolie's cubicle.

    My decision then, was to go multi-monitor with my succeeding machine (the desktop on the right). As a developer, I'd prefer to have three monitors so an Outlook-Visual Studio-browser layout would be possible. However, looking for hardware that supports three video outputs has been a challenge here in Singapore, so I settled for the next best thing - two wide-screens.

    There have been extra issues to deal with though. First, the video adapter I am using is an nVidia GeForce 6150 integrated into the motherboard, the only model around that has both VGA db-15 + DVI ports. The colours are lush and rich in the monitor connected via the DVI port, but the legacy db-15 port is giving out pale, washed-out colours in the low and high-tone areas. I have been playing around with the video settings a lot, but cannot come close to recreating the brilliance of the DVI display. I concluded from the reports of others that there is simply no way a db-15 can have enough bandwidth for a rich-colour display.

    Second, I actually work more at the office than from home. :-) So remote desktop connection is a very important technology for me. The combined resolution of the twin screens equals 2880x900, but physically they are recognised as separate by the system. But when I connect remotely with the same resolution setting, it becomes a single ultra-wide display monitor. My desktop habit is to pull the Windows taskbar vertically to the side, and with this case, to the "middle" of the screen so that I do not have to move the mouse far from either screen. When remote desktop takes over as a unified screen, the taskbar in the middle actually stretches the entire length of one monitor making for a really prominent taskbar 1440 pixels long. Yes, so I that I have 0.00% chance of not being able to find the taskbar. The solution? I have to make the remote desktop connect at less than 2880 pixels wide. 2879 makes the grade. UPDATE: wrong; it appears it works some times, and some times not.

    Thirdly, whatever productivity I was seeking to gain from this setup probably gets cancelled out due to a variety of problems. It looks like 64-bit drivers for Windows Vista, and I mean stable drivers, are far and few. For most people 64-bit computing is still a far future. But for developers who are currently aiming at 4GB RAM and beyond like I do, be warned. Pain likely ensues.

    Still, there is no way I will go back to single-monitor machines.

    NOTE: for those who are asking, the centre PC - connecting the middle two monitors - is my entertainment machine. I use that to play games, but hardly do that now so it's serving as a very expensive television for my cable TV line. Yes, there is a TV tuner card connected to the set-top device, which got masked behind the left wide-screen LCD monitor.

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