The title pretty much says it all. The work I do at IBM and in my free time is mostly centered around using my notebook to get my work done. Whether its programming, writing or creating presentations almost all of the work is on my work is done on screen. I have opportunity to work from home as well as in the office and I think my time split is about 85 / 15 (office / home). In the office I have a setup which includes two external monitors (24″) and I also use my Mac (the 17″ MacBook Pro display is a lifesaver).
My Work Environment
At work, my layout is MacBook Pro – Monitor # 1 – Monitor # 2. Monitor # 1 is connected through the Thunderbolt Display Port while Monitor # 2 is connected through a Kensington DisplayLink device that basically connects via a USB connection and provides the third display. The resolution on all displays is 1920 x 1200. Overall this works pretty well. The only drag is the Kensington is a little slow due to its use of the USB but I use to to place browsers for e-meetings, reference material and the like so high performance is not a hard requirement.
My Home Environment
At home I have a Dell U3011 display (30″) and its awesome. Really bright, fast, good contrast, etc. Highly recommend the monitor if your looking for one. And, its BIG. I leave my MacBook Pro in a BookArc and simply cable in network, power and the like and leave the MacBook closed. I’ve become so accustomed to the monitor setup at work that two monitors made sense at home and so I splurged and bought a second U3011.
How to Hook them Together
After doing some research I decided to go with the Matrox DualHead2Go DP edition. Since I was only going to use the two monitors (leaving the MacBook in the Arc) I wanted to have the highest performance possible so I discounted the Kensington DisplayLink as an option. Last night I set up the system and have some good and some bad comments.
The two U3011 displays are fantastic. Pretty much covers my peripheral range when sitting side by side and the performance is excellent. They are also really bright and easy to read (running at 1920×1200 each). They form a single “physical” display as far as the Mac is concerned. The MAc ses them as a single 3840×1200 display.
The DualHead2Go comes with some software PowerDesk, well, I downloaded it from the Matrox Support site. I tried installing it (I run Lion 10.7.4) and it didn’t work. The software is supposed to creates an icon in the menu bar. I then went and downloaded the previous driver which worked fine. With the driver installed you can set the resolution and tweak a few things like where the dock is located. The software also provides the ability to set a keyboard shortcut so you can size a window in one display or the other.
I’m not quite sure I like that as when pop-ups are displayed they are normally centered in the middle of the screen where the two displays come together. Below you can see the “About this Mac” dialog displayed in the center of the displays. Yuck.
What would be ideal would be to have the option to simply treat the two displays as independent physical displays and arrange them correctly using the Display in System Preferences. I’ll play with it some more as perhaps I’m just not adjusted to how much better this is. We’ll see.
The other thing that I’m not happy about is the transition time it takes when the displays sleep. When waking up it can take a few (sometimes several minutes) for the DUalHead2Go and the Mac to both acknowledge the displays are operational. The Dell’s cycle between “No Link” and “Entering PowerSaver Mode” several times. I’d like to click the keyboard and simply have them come up. there is come kind of strange race condition going on that I do not understand. This is probably my biggest grievance. I’m using two connectors that came with the DualHead2Go adapter that connect from Display Port connectors on the device to DVI connectors. Perhaps DisplayPort to DisplayPort might be better and if I can find the cables I give that a try.
I’m glad to have the two displays in my arsenal at home and I’ve already experience productivity boosts when programming as I can put editor windows all over the place. Editing of Video is much easier as well. If you need more realestate, this is the way to go. If Matrox fixed a few of these bugs then I’d be even happier. If I can’t fix the sync problems, I’ll have to buy a different device for the Thunderbolt display. I’m not sold on this device yet.
If you have comments or suggestions, I’m always interested in what I may have missed or new tips.