A Directory of Monitor Extenders

This week’s WSJ.com Loose Wire column (subscription only, I’m afraid) is on getting more screen for nothing:

People of the future will laugh at us for many reasons, no doubt, but one of the most likely sources of their mirth will be the miserly size of our computer screens. It isn’t that our screens haven’t gotten bigger, both in size and in what we can fit on them (this is the so-called resolution, allowing smaller fonts and images so we can pack more on, so long as our eyesight holds up).

I’ve written about the joys of having two monitors before, and I’m still surprised that very few people do it. Mind you, I was called a dinosaur yesterday by someone who has a 23” screen, so I guess I can’t get too snooty. Anyway, the column mentions a couple of programs you might want to try out:

  • MaxiVista ($30 from www.maxivista.com), which lets you use your network to extend your existing screen onto those of your other computers. It’s like buying a second or third monitor, but without actually having to, because you are using the screens you already have. I
  • Multiplicity ($40 to $70 from www.thinkdesk.net). Multiplicity does something similar to MaxiVista — corralling extra computers on your network — but instead of enslaving them to become one long screen for one computer, it creates a team of computers under one boss. In short, you control all the computers from one keyboard, and one mouse. (Update: The guys at MaxiVista tell me that their product does the same thing, but I haven’t tested this feature. Thanks, Mario)
  • For Mac and Linux users (and Windows users who don’t mind a less friendly interface, or don’t have any money) there’s Synergy, which does more or less what Multiplicity does.
  • And there’s also a Mac-only freeware program called teleport. (Thanks, Julian)

I’m now using Multiplicity to run a separate laptop next to my two-screen rig, which is running iTunes, my Skype stuff, as well as doing some backups, running my Klips among other things. Takes the load of the main rig, and yet I don’t have to move a muscle to run it.

Td

Then there are a few other bits and bobs you could try out to grab extra screen real estate.

  • If you do have two screens use Ultramon to control them. Adds some excellent management features to Windows rather basic support for more than one monitor. The guy who runs Ultramon also has an excellent resource page about multi-screen systems.
  • There are lots of Desktop Managers out there, which basically let you have lots of screens on one. Microsoft’s own version is called the Virtual Desktop Manager and it’s included in the PowerToys for XP. There are lots of others. I know some folk love these set ups but I’ve never gotten too excited about them. Sorry.
  • Another approach is WindowSizer, which gives you more control over how you manage and rearrange your windows. I love the idea but I’ve never quite mastered it. I’m still looking for a program that lets me organise my windows really easily and then remembers the layout until I tell it not to.

10. December 2005 by jeremy
Categories: Hardware, Interfaces, Resources, Software, apps | Tags: , , , , , | 7 comments

Comments (7)

  1. Jeremy,

    I suggest to take a deeper look at Maxivista, as it is two products in one: It fully includes the Multiplicity featureset PLUS the extended monitor at almost HALF the price.

    Mario

  2. The last thing I need is lots of screens – give me a 40″ screen on which I can map different tasks and context switch – multiple computers, yes, multiple screens no thanks

  3. I think the idea of 2 or more screens is fantastic, but what about a one giant screen? I think that is also a good idea. I also think that people should have 2 computers to handle todays multitasking demands. 1 computer for surfing the net and the other for multimedia needs, both networked to each other. But then comes the need for using two different keyboards and mice. In that case it would be necessary for a switch box to switch between 2 PCs.

  4. I think the idea of 2 or more screens is fantastic, but what about a one giant screen? I think that is also a good idea. I also think that people should have 2 computers to handle todays multitasking demands. 1 computer for surfing the net and the other for multimedia needs, both networked to each other. But then comes the need for using two different keyboards and mice. In that case it would be necessary for a switch box to switch between 2 PCs.

  5. M, to me the benefits of two screens is that they can be kept a little separate, like two desks (maximising a window will only maximise it to the size of one screen, especially using Ultramon.) Secondly, using something like Multidesk, you avoid the use of extra hardware, either mouse/keyboard or switches. It’s seamless. A version that allows moving between Macs and Windows PCs is in the works, I’m told.

  6. I have got to get a second screen. My accountant has two and it is incredible what he can look at and accomplish with less hassle.

  7. Another Software to control dual monitors with shortcut and with easy to use options at http://www.murgee.com/