Not just for games
Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.
...but it isn't really competitive among the available multi-screen options today. After mulling choices for a long time, I got myself a good dual-head card... ~$100, dual DVI plus S-video, 512 MB, DirectX 10, etc etc. I thought seriously about a Matrox TripleHead device, but the numbers didn't add well. Then I hooked up two 19" 1280x1024 panels. Superb. Then I went nuts and got myself two 24" 1900x1200 monitors. OK I fell into a distress deal, but I couldn't resist. WONDERFUL. I really was disappointed by the various caveats and limitations of the Matrox devices. They certainly weren't cheaper, and they didn't have the up-to-date features of the card I chose. I can imagine this gimmick is a good idea in specific conditions, but it's hardly an efficient solution.
We bought one (they didn't consult me) because we need to run a primary display and an 800x600 DVI output to a projector with different output (PowerPoint and other software.) I can get the primary to be echoed out the first output of the DualHead2Go but the second output remains dark ("no signal") no matter what I do. I've tried changing the setup in the Matrox software, and in Windows, and the result is unchanging. I'm not a tech idiot (been in IT since 1978) but I spent over an hour dinking around with this thing and finally had to give it up. But the real reason I'm just going to return the thing is that Matrox will not even talk to you until you register the stupid thing and answer about 30 questions about yourself, your organization, and your PC. Some of the questions are more invasive than I will voluntarily answer. We just want to try it out, see if/how it works, but it's not going to get even that chance. No email address I tried answers, they just bounce with "This address is no longer being monitored, please see..." and a generic url. And like I said, you have to go through a lengthy registration process. For us it makes more sense to install a second video card-- and someone just donated one. Sorry matrox, had I wanted a toy, I'd stop in at KB Toys.
One problem noted is this spans the available resolution across 3 monitors. This reduces the available resolution on each individual monitor and does cause text/apps to look grainy and larger than normal. Also, maximizing any window spreads it across all 3 screens.
And then the rest..I bought one, having read all the blurb but not the small writing. When I received it and set it up, I found out that I could only manage a limited and useless display size for my 3 monitors (something like 2ooo x 748 pixels) on my ATI X1950 card - less than having 2 monitors at 1280 x 1024 on the single card. Much better for me to buy a second video card and get the full 3 screens at maximum resolution. I woulkd recommend anyone wanting to buy this check the small print on the Matrox site to check compatibility with their video cards. I'm selling mine now...
Actually, the two monitor version. We didn't have to crack open the computers and it is working out great. When the article says "You don't have to buy expensive video cards"... well, that is not true. What you are buying is a video card in an external case! Regardless, it's rock solid and the support is great. It does definately help with your work. Everybody here loves not having to switch back and forth between programs.
I already have two monitors with a 3360x1050 combined resolution using one card. This is a backwards step... The cost of the three 19 inch 4:3 is going to be the same if not more than the two 22 inch WS. Most modern video cards have two outputs already and are more than capable of displaying the resolution required. A bit of a toy this seems...
Honestly? I ahve seen this very unit in action for MMORPGs (Eve-Online in this case) something you cannot do with Dual, because the game does not inherently support dual monitors. It was FANTASTIC. You could not do dual anyways, becuase it would cut off your info right in the middle (a lot of your information is a central "pod" at the base of the screen, something you cannot move,f or good reason). I am very tempted to buy this
For most people with newer desktops, this would probably be a waste of money. But the audience that would seem to benefit most are the older PCs (which consequently wouldn't have enough graphical power to drive 3 monitors efficiently) and laptop users.
I think you headed towards a potential use, but missed a couple. Laptop users is definitely a group, but also people who have KVMs that only do VGA and a single monitor. If this device can connect in after the KVM and before the monitors that opens a whole new world. Currently I cheat with my D series Dell in a port replicator with the VGA signal going to the KVM and the DVI going to a monitor. One other point, with all those folks out buying mega monitors you can pickup 19" monitors for next to nothing.
According to the advertising blurb: "Using Matrox patent-pending technology, TripleHead2Go then splits the 3840 x 1024 Microsoft? Windows? desktop into three separate 1280 x 1024 screens of information, and displays across three independent 1280 x 1024 monitors. [b]There is no image distortion[/b] and no scaling to the original raw pixels generated from the existing graphics accelerator." So how come everything looks extruded then ? Matrox appear to be capitalising on the basis that the new owner will be so blown-away by the size of the 'display' (s)he won't notice the squashed circles. It's a (rich !!) poor man's substitute for a 5 x 4 video wall. I'll stick with my Hanns-G 1680x1050 monitor. http://tinyurl.com/33foey
We use the matrox internal cards for dual monitors, but recently started using IOGear's Dual/Triple head 2GO usb adapters. They work fine, allow the user to set separate resolutions, duplicate screens or extended desktop, etc. etc...without the added heat and hassle of internal cards. Haven't seen any problems in over 8 months of use.
The image quality was surprisingly good, especially when you were able to find the right native resolution.
From the photos, the only time the image appeared off was during the initial setting. You'll notice that in the later images, everything appears as normal. I'm sure most people will have the same result, as the EDID information probably isn't being passed on to Windows what the capability is of each monitor. It's passing a generic resolution first to make sure that all three are working, and after that, you can venture on to a more suitable, native res.
I know some people use a multi-monitor setup and swear by its benefits. The Matrox TripleHead2Go produces a three-monitor-wide resolution -- that's a lot of desktop real estate. And it accomplishes this without additional video cards. Does that interest you? Is the Matrox solution simpler than your current multi-monitor set up?
I've become spoiled with having a dual monitor config for years. It's hard to imagine working without two. Three sounds interesting, but I'm a bit concerned about the added desktop real estate required, the low refresh rates and the $360+ price tag. That plus I'm a little hard pressed to think of a time when I felt two was not enough. Kinda hard to justify. Although, it does have me imaging some fun times with a Flight SIM.