At Bam, I’ve had a second 19″ Dell LCD sitting idle on my desk for a while. Why has it been idle? Because the video card on my desktop doesn’t support multiple monitors. This was quite depressing as I love dual monitors, but I didn’t have time to find a card that would work for me (My box is half height, and only supports PCI express severely limiting my card choices).
Then I discovered a little piece of software called Maxivista, which allows you to use a second computer as a virtual video card. It just so happens that my laptop supports an additional monitor as well as the built in laptop and since I take it to work most days it was a perfect candidate for the Maxivista treatment. By downloading the Pro version (about $50AU) I managed to set up THREE, count them THREE monitors! The image below shows my setup:
The way it works is simple, yet ingenious – on the host (or server) you install the “virtual video cards”, which is just a software driver. The drivers appear to the host as a normal video card. You need to start a virtual card for each virtual monitor you want to support (I setup two). Then on the client/s you install a small app, which receives the video signal. I run two different instances of the software on my laptop, so I get two different monitors.
The lag is surprisingly low! For day-to-day development work, you don’t notice it at all. I was watching a YouTube video on the second monitor today and it was pretty smooth, although you wouldn’t be able to watch a DVD or play a game, but it is still pretty darn impressive!
I’d also recommend installing UltraMon – it allows you to add a discrete taskbar to each window, which makes organising you desktop even easier. I have my IDE in one window, a test browser in my second and my “Getting stuff done” stuff (time tracking, task lists etc) on my third. It is panoramic bliss! :)