54. Two screens can ease some
By Mark Alberstat
For most computer users, one monitor is enough. However, there are times
and applications when it would be nice to have two monitors.
Who would ever need two monitors running at the same time off the same
machine, you ask?
Imagine you are editing video and want to keep all of your tools open and
available on one screen while using the other for the actual images.
How about a project manager with some very long spreadsheets of flow
charts? With two monitors that much more of the application can be seen.
Or how about online financial traders? With multiple monitors, they can
keep up with industry news and price charts on one screen while filling in
endless forms on another.
With multiple monitors not only can you have more than one application
active at a time, you can stretch certain applications over the larger
screen area, eliminating the need to shrink text size or viewable area.
Since Windows 98 came out, having two monitors attached to one machine has
been possible, though few people have actually done this. With Windows XP,
running multiple monitors has become even easier and you can, in fact, run
up to 10 monitors from a single workstation.
Thinking about the back of your computer, you may be wondering how you
could ever hook up more than one monitor. The answer is simple - not only
will you have to purchase another monitor, but with most systems, you will
also have to purchase another video card.
Video cards today can run from about $50 to well over $300, depending on
the quality of the image you want and the various features, including the
amount of on-board RAM. You can also purchase, often through large
mail-order computer hardware companies, dual-monitor cards - a single
video card that can run two monitors. These cards are often more expensive
but will save you an expansion slot in the back of your PC.
If your computer has its video built into the motherboard, you may have to
disable it in the motherboard's BIOS before an add-in card will work. To
be sure about this, and how to disable it, you will have to refer to the
documentation that came with the motherboard, as they are not all alike.
Once you have the cards installed, getting the multiple-monitor
environment to work is relatively straightforward. Windows will easily
recognize the situation and one card will have to be set as the primary.
It is through this monitor that Windows will boot up. Any further setting
manipulation, such as resolution or colour depth, of any of the monitors
can be done through the Windows display panel.
With a Mac, dual monitors are also possible but, based on the postings on
various Mac websites, the best way to do this, unless you have a PowerMac
G5, is through a secondary device, such as digitaltiger's SideCar.
With a Linux-based computer, hooking up two monitors is similar to the
process described above with Windows. There are several excellent Linux
forums online with technical notes on how to have this type of OS run
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Originally published 27 February 2005