8918 W. 21 St N, MS: 216
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As more computer users move from a traditional desktop machine to the flexibility of a laptop, there is always a trade-off between screen size and portability. Using a laptop on the road is different from using it at your office, where you expect better ergonomics. Big laptop screens mean heavy machines, and small, light laptops mean small screens. However, using an external monitor can expand the limits of the screen size on your small, light laptop when you are using it at your office. Definitely a "best of both worlds" solution.
Multiple external monitors are especially useful if you are looking at multiple maps, imagery, multiple copies of files and data, or even working with multiple documents or spreadsheets. The VTBook video card is a versatile product that can support almost any combination of two external monitors.
The VTBook card plugs into the PC-Card slot in your laptop and works as a source of second video output. The normal video and the laptop’s video out port remain intact, but are augmented by the VTBook. Because the card can support two additional video monitors, by using the optional VTBook cable, you can potentially support up to four monitors with your laptop, as shown below.
In my opinion, this is much cooler than using a docking station.
Technical Data (from the manual)
- Memory: 32 MB, 266 MHz DDR (*)
- Bus: CardBus 32 bit
- Mechanical Size: PC Card Type II
- Supported OS: MS-Windows XP Home and Professional, MS-Windows 2000, Mac OS 9.2.2, Mac OS X 10.2.8 (Jaguar) and 10.3 (Panther)
- Vertical refresh rates: 60Hz ... 160 Hz
- Maximum overall resolution 2048x1280 (wide) and 1920x1440 (4:3) VGA, 1920x1200 DVI (*)
- Maximum Virtual Dual Head resolution: 2560x1024 (two 1280x1024)
- Maximum resolution at 32 bit: 1600x 1200 VGA, 1920x1200 DVI (*)
- Maximum resolution at 85 Hz: 1600x1200 (*)
- Maximum resolution at 100 Hz: 1280x1024 (*)
- Portrait (rotated) video modes
- Sleep supported
- Hot insertable
- Temperature sensor
- Voltage sensor
- Dynamic power management
- Direct X 8.1
- Open GL
- VGA through included adapter
- DVI-D and VGA through the VTBook DualHead Cable (an option)
The card supports both computer video monitors and HDTV monitors, giving the user a lot of flexibility for presentations or for almost any collection of multiple monitors. The resolution range for both monitors ranged from a low of 320 X 200 to a high of 2,048 X 1,280, with support for both normal aspect ratio monitors and a wide selection of resolutions for wide screen monitors and HDTV screens. A PDF file with a complete list of resolutions supported is available.
Installation and Operation
The first thing you notice is the elegance of the packaging. The card itself is packaged almost like a piece of jewelry. The CD slides behind the jewelry box and when the box is opened, you can see how the card and VGA adapter are packaged. It is a very nice touch.
The documentation is in an HTML file on the enclosed CD. I had no problem getting it set up and working. Installation (Windows XP) is initialized automatically when the CD is loaded. The drivers need to be loaded via the Windows Wizard that recognizes new hardware (load the CD and then re-boot). The software setup is a matter of selecting the monitor resolution and selecting which one will be your primary monitor. If you haven’t used multiple monitors before, this step alleviates the need to search your monitors to find the desktop icons. In my case, I prefer that the left-hand monitor be the primary.
The display properties dialog is shown below.
You can do several things here, such as:
- Arrange the order of monitors
- Set the monitor resolution
- Choose the numbers of colors rendered
- Set the monitor refresh rate
- Indicate whether the desktop is extended: spans your current monitor setup
This is how two external monitors plus the one in my laptop look using the VTBook card. Each monitor shows one of Directions Media’s publications. I have one external 17" LCD monitor and one 17" CRT monitor. In this case, all three of my monitors are running at 1,280 X 1,024. However, the monitor driven by the VTBook card could be at a totally different resolution, which can be handy for capturing screen shots or if you are using the HDTV mounted on your wall as a monitor.
The VTBook card makes your laptop much more versatile, both in your office and on the road. If you are doing a presentation on the road and the projector can support a better resolution than that of your laptop screen, the VTBook card will probably accommodate it. You can also use up to four monitors at home and extend the power of your laptop. But be sure to order the extra cable, just in case you want to run four monitors.