Hardware

Matrox TripleHead2Go, Digital Edition: The Right Tool for the Job?

When ALT-TAB no longer cuts it for navigating the half dozen or more application windows you have in use at any given time, you'll typically solve the problem by switching over to a multi-monitor setup. It's usually a trivial matter to slot in additional video cards for a desktop. But what if you're dealing with a small form-factor PC that doesn't have the slot for more video cards, or a laptop to which you need to add two or more external monitors? That's where the Matrox TripleHead2Go enters the picture.

The Job

Whether you are a harried systems administrator or analyst programmer scrambling to meet a deadline for a multitier Web application, there are times when ALT-TAB no longer cuts it for navigating the half dozen or more application windows you have in use. Typically, this problem is solved simply by switching over to a multi-monitor setup. Indeed, it is normally a trivial matter to slot in additional video cards for a desktop.

But what if you're dealing with a small form-factor PC that doesn't have the slot for more video cards? Or maybe you're dealing with a laptop and you need to add two or more external monitors. That's where the Matrox TripleHead2Go enters the picture.

The Tool

Matrox TripleHead2Go

The Matrox TripleHead2Go is an external box that harnesses your system's existing graphics solution for native hardware rendering of all 2D, 3D and video via multiple monitors. The TripleHead2Go works by appearing to your system as an ultra-widescreen (up to) 3840 x 1024 monitor via a standard analog VGA connector. Internally, it splits the 3840 x 1024 Windows desktop into separate 1280 x 1024 screens output to three independent ports. Because the TripleHead2Go does not manipulate the video output in any way except for splitting it up, there is no image distortion and no scaling to the original raw pixels generated from the existing graphics accelerator.

Note that the TripleHead2Go Digital edition outputs only to LCD monitors via three DVI connectors. It does not support displaying to monitors via the VGA interface.

Matrox TripleHead2Go

TripleHead2Go's strengths
  • Light-weight and ultra-compact
  • A single analog (VGA) input to drive up to three digital (DVI) LCD monitors
  • Harness existing graphic hardware's native rendering speed for both 2D, 3D and video -- more than 200 game titles compatible with TripleHead2Go
  • Powerful driver software provides intuitive management of application windows as well as ability to account for monitor bezel
  • Intuitive and stable
TripleHead2Go's weaknesses
  • Rather pricey (approximately $300, depending on the vendor)
  • Not all video cards are able to support its full capabilities
  • Availability of increasingly affordable high resolution LCD panels reduces product's appeal
The Right Tool for the Job?

If you need to work with two or more monitors on your laptop, then this is definitely the right tool for you. Setup is simple and intuitive, and its stability and performance is rock solid. Its software driver also ensures that application windows behave correct by snapping them to the right monitor when you attempt to "maximize" them. Overall, TripleHead2Go is something I would definitely consider getting for my laptop if Santa Claus were to drop two or three LCD monitors at my doorstep this Christmas.

View a screenshot gallery of TripleHead2Go in action.

About

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

32 comments
welldone
welldone

Used the their Dual2Go on Gateway Laptop and it works very well.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

I noticed at Sam's Club that some of these large screen HDTV's have a computer monitor connector on them.

llauren
llauren

What made me go "huh?" is that the setup supports up to three monitors of up to 1280 x 1024 resolution. Isn't that a bit low for today's standards, or am i just spoiled? Sure, if the box can handle two displays of 1920 x 1200 instead of three times 1280 x 1024, that would make marginally more sense. I'm just wondering who's buying 1280 x 1024 today?

PhilippeV
PhilippeV

- don't think you'll be able to plug your wide TV if it's not a recent model with DVI input; - don't think you'll be able to connect your costly video projector, that most of the time, only features a analog VGA input... Really, the bad tool for the right feature. Matrox wanted to spare the cost of a few (uncostly) some VGA connectors, but should have designed a more versatile model. With those limitations, it is limiting itself, or it will deceive many buyers that thought that the device would work with their existing screens.

PhilippeV
PhilippeV

This is a stupid design option: * it won't allow you to render medias that MUST use the DVI output of your video accelerator, notably videos from protected medias, because only the analog VGA output of your adapter is supported. * it assumes that the display adapter can support very large screen resolution. Many adapters are limited to 2048 pixels wide resolution, so only 2 screens would fit. Why isn't it splitting the screen into 4 areas? * it's input is analog VGA, but it only supports digital DVI connections, this means that you won't be able to use many display devices that don't have a DVI input, but only a VGA input! It's strange because you can use them with your existing PC with its existing VGA output. Why doesn't it include three analog VGA outputs in addition to the 3 DVI output? Does Matrox provide digital DVI-to-analog VGA connector adapters to bypass this severe limitation? It would still be unpractical, because such connector adaptors are ugly and fragile. Please, Matrox, include classic (15-pin) analog VGA outputs in your device!!!

lalitgoel
lalitgoel

In product Review it shows MAXTROX , is this right or this is not a product from Matrox .

neville
neville

Matrox Dual Screen works wonders on a desktop, poor Vista Rating though, and rather expensive. I'm definitely going to be looking into this TripleHhead as an alternative... FYI- should you be wanting to run multiple desktops get the software "Synergy" it allows the sharing of keyboard and mouse over multiple machines, giving you the same effect as multiple screens with one keyboard/mouse with the use of multiple processors. Works on any Windows platform.

6642633
6642633

Maybe a good tool for "Flight Simulator" provided that the software support this display. One for left hand side display and another for right-hand display and the third for control display...

John_Doe69
John_Doe69

But how is it for gaming? It is the only application I have for something like this.

golncor
golncor

how does that apply to this article?

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

with my planetary conquest game on them!

golncor
golncor

these were designed when the 19" 1280x1024 was fairly common as a standard. now that widescreen is the "in" thing I am sure they are working to expand the products capabilities. If you want to use only two monitors with a triplehead2go unit, they have software on their site which will allow some of the more popular resolution capabilities for a pair of widescreen monitors.

golncor
golncor

they do make a VGA version of the TH2G

tedeansiii
tedeansiii

Obviously you did not look at the picture or read the article carefully. The one pictured in the article has a VGA and DVI input and all three going out are DVI this is the digital version the VGA version of the box im assuming would still have both DVI and VGA inputs but only VGA outputs

golncor
golncor

an analog version of this adapter for use with analog VGA connections.

wb4alm
wb4alm

I bought my TripleHead2Go not too long after it was first released - and I have not regretted it. I had been using a dual head Matrox video card for years, and found a need to have three screens. The only minor annoyance, is that my three ViewSonic screens have a 1/2 inch frame around the monitor, and so at times there is a "1 inch" gap between the 1240th and 1241st pixel . I have discovered that many windows programmers are very shortsighted when designing their applications, and error messages and pop-up windows are not always placed in an appropiate place. (They are freqently placed in "center of workspace", rather than "center of application window". When I am creating programs, I find it handy to have my reference and design material on one screen, the editor and compilier on the center screen, and the finished product on the third screen. This arangement speeds up the process, as opposed to constantly switching windows around, and trying to remember what you saw on a previous window as you starting typing into a new window. I also assist a few non-profits with their bookkeeping, and the ability to open a database record or spreadsheet to 3720 pixels wide has been very, VERY useful. I'm not a gamer, but i can see where the wrap around screens would be really nice in many of the games that I have watched others playing. (Matrox's site lists a large number of games that DO support the triple2go.) Hummmmmm, I wonder what it would be to have multiple triple2go's attached to a couple of video cards.... just kidding... ...for now.

cdh987
cdh987

I have been running with multiple monitors for quite a while using two video cards (3 monitors using Ultramon). I have been wonderign though about ading more machines to my current set up for better multitasking. This "Synergy" seems like it is just what I'd need. Good to know that it exists, thanks for the info.

chuck_palfi
chuck_palfi

If you only need to add a second monitor to your laptop or other system dont forget about the IOGear USB video adapter. For around ~$75 this simple device plugs into a usb port and has a VGA port to connect to an additional monitor. I have used this apater on both laptop and desktop PC's in my environment with success. It wont give you 3 additional outputs, only 1, but it is a fraction of the cost.

PsiFiScout
PsiFiScout

I first saw "Triple Head To Go" advertised on a Flightsim site. It looked great until I saw the pricetag ($399.00 at the time, they have since come down a bit). For a lot less. I bought a second video card (I'm running two n^idia 8600's with dual monitor hook-ups) and now run four monitors in MS Flightsim X. It works fine for the big picture (In VC view, one screen for the left side door window, two monitors cover the L/R sides op the panel and one to look out the right side door window) and cost me about one quarter of what the Triple-Head-To-Go would have. I think that Matrox has a great product and a novel idea, it's just not a cure all for every situation.

CaptainCapacitor
CaptainCapacitor

TripleHead in cobination with large displays works great for wrapping the horizon around you.

chaneys
chaneys

I use a dual monitor system for playing EverQuest 2. I have the game on my left monitor and on the right one I have a web browser in which I can use for gathering information. I would love to have a third so I could keep my email up and also possibly have a word document with more game information at my fingertips.

techienate
techienate

If you have a desktop computer with any open expansions slots (PCI or PCI-e) I would recommend using multiple video cards, especially for gaming. While this might work for gaming, it is putting more of a load on the video card, as it has to render 3 times more graphics than it does with only one monitor. By using multiple video cards, you are distributing the load across more gpu's, which will give you better performance. So, if you can add more graphics card(s)--do so; you can get better performance for significantly less money. However, this could be invaluable for laptops and computers without any open expansion slots. I will certainly keep it in mind to use in some situations.

doralynn
doralynn

Looks like an excellent product which married with a robust, height adjustable multi-monitor arm( 2 to 8 in a double array of 4) makes the intense computer user's, software or gaming, life complete.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

doubleheads. I was toying with the idea of a presentation where one head -> projector and I could put questions on it, then keep the answers on an LCD screen next to it, which didn't show on the projector. The neat thing is not just their multi-output video cards but these devices to split one output into 2+ screens. That's really clever. I don't think anyone else makes something like this.

tedeansiii
tedeansiii

This is only hypothetical mainly because of viability and the lack of need and the cost prohibitive nature of it. But.... What if you had (3) Video cards, and (3) TripleHead2Go Boxes and the boxes were the digital version then you had (9) Samsung 226BW 22" widescreen monitors all mounted with wall mounts in a 3X3 grid. All DVI connections. then in windows control panel you set monitor one to top second to middle and third to bottom and spanned each section across three. WOW and 9 Monitor Screen!

TrueDinosaur
TrueDinosaur

I agree regarding message boxes. I run 2 22" widescreens with the right screen placed front and center. In most apps any dialog box shows up on the left screen. 'Center of Application Window' is a mantra programmers need to learn.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

have you used it? sending video thru USB sounds like it clogs up the USB ports. Wonder if it would interfere with my scanner or printer. I've seen articles where having too many usb devices using too much bandwidth causes probs.

golncor
golncor

You obviously had the room in your system to add video cards. The beauty of this item is that you can use it in a system that has no capability to expand or add cards. Take a notebook as explained in the OP. It usually only has a single vga out and using the TH2G unit, you can spread your windows across up to three external monitors along with the laptops screen.

cdh987
cdh987

I had two monitors for a good while too. I have a nVidia 7900 GT, 512 and I just stuck the second monitor on the second DVI out of that card. This was nice, but I wanted a third one too. I ended up having a nVidia 5400 from my wifes comp that broke. I stuck that one in an open regular PCI slot and got Ultramon (google it). This worked fantastically; now I have three monitors (I play FFXI, and EQ2, and EVE too). The only thing that you need to do if you do it this way is make the small card running in the regular PCI slot (not the PCI x16 that you probably using now) your primary in the BIOS. This wont change anything important on your desktop because you end up setting up which monitor you use as your primary in Ultramon anyway so it's no big deal. For some reason this is the only way to get the third monitor to 'show up'. The third monitor running off the 5400 works great, it plays movies and everything. I got that 5400 for like $40. Hope this helps! :-D

Peter Mac
Peter Mac

This could also be quite neat in a trade show environment - cuts down on the amount of PC hardware required to run multiple displays in a large booth, easier for sales teams to setup, cheaper to carry spare units if this than spare computer hardware. I wonder how the box would handle screen res if you used lengthy extension cables to the screens? Obviously would need high quality cables ~

paulmah
paulmah

And at 55 watts per monitor, a gigantic power bill at the end of the month. Ouch.

golncor
golncor

it is probably not the bandwidth causing the problems but the power to the USB ports. If you have a stock system, you probably are overloading them with too much power draw.