I found a cheap way to add a second monitor...

47 replies
In case other warriors are interested in expanding the size of their computer's "desktop", gizmos now exist that allow you to connect a second (or third, or fourth...) screen to a spare USB 2.0 port.

At first, I was very sceptical about them ("Connect a screen to a USB port? That'll never work!") but I've bought one and it does indeed give you a second screen with which to work.

The small black box that you can see with the blue light in the photo below is made by EVGA and the model is called "UV Plus+ UV-16" (snappy, eh?). There are other makes/models, but this is the one that I've bought. It'll drive a monitor up to a 1600x1200 resolution.



Here is the setup with the cables tidied away... (iMovie gets a screen to itself on the left-hand screen, while a tutorial PDF teaching me how to use iMovie can be stretched to occupy all of the right-hand screen)



Okay, if you want to know anymore, just ask!
#add #cheap #found #monitor
  • Profile picture of the author Flyingpig7
    That's a great idea thanks. I've just bought a second laptop to do the same thing!! silly me well I know better now, perhaps I'll do this in the future on my desk.

    Keren
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    • Profile picture of the author John Henderson
      Originally Posted by Flyingpig7 View Post

      That's a great idea thanks. I've just bought a second laptop to do the same thing!! silly me well I know better now, perhaps I'll do this in the future on my desk.
      Oh, Keren! My timing's obviously terrible -- if only I'd posted this before you bought that laptop... :rolleyes:

      In the subject line, I said that this was cheap. Just to give everyone an idea of what "cheap" means, I bought the 20" HP screen (the one with the silver bezel) which has a native resolution of 1600x1200 pixels from eBay for £100. The EVGA UV Plus+ UV-16 usually sells for about £55, but I discovered that Novatech (near Portsmouth, UK) sell them for £35.

      So in total, doubling my desktop space cost me £135. And when compared to spending money on other aspects of a computer (memory, bigger hard disk), this has been noticeably useful -- an upgrade where you can instantly see the difference.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kate Davies
    You have spare USB ports!?! With everything being USB these days, I'm constantly swapping attachments.

    But I do agree, having 2 monitors is so useful.
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    • Profile picture of the author EJ Lear
      Originally Posted by digileaf View Post

      You have spare USB ports!?! With everything being USB these days, I'm constantly swapping attachments.

      But I do agree, having 2 monitors is so useful.
      All you have to do to run 2 monitors is use this cable: {edited out, exclusive to Dell}

      (No it's not an affiliate link)

      That splitter will work on XP or Vista, it's only $5.99. You plug it into the video card and then you have 2 plugs for your monitor cables.

      If you have a laptop you can just plug in the monitor to the side of the laptop and adjust the Display Properties so that they both display (this is what I do). I have a 19" widescreen on the laptop with a 19" LCD monitor for the 2nd monitor.

      **WARNING- Once you do this you will never go back! It will ruin you for life!**

      Additionally, for your USB problem you can buy a USB hub that will let you plugin a bunch more USB devices.

      Here's what I have plugged into my CPU:

      1- Printer
      2- Backup drive
      3- Computer fan
      4- Wireless mouse

      All of that stuff is plugged in to the USB drive and I only have 1 USB port in use (the one that the hub uses)

      Hope this helps you out a bit!

      Respectfully,
      EJ Lear
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      • Profile picture of the author John Henderson
        Originally Posted by EJ Lear View Post

        All you have to do to run 2 monitors is use this cable: ANTOnline.com - Cables Unlimited PCM-2250 Cables Unlimited - Display splitter - HD-15 (M) - HD-15 (F) - 8 in

        (No it's not an affiliate link)

        That splitter will work on XP or Vista, it's only $5.99. You plug it into the video card and then you have 2 plugs for your monitor cables.
        Hi there, EJ. I'm quite sure that the splitter cable that you linked to will merely provide two screens with exactly the same image. I suspect that extending a desktop over two screens requires something more complex than a splitter cable.
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        • Profile picture of the author EJ Lear
          Originally Posted by John Henderson View Post

          Hi there, EJ. I'm quite sure that the splitter cable that you linked to will merely provide two screens with exactly the same image. I suspect that extending a desktop over two screens requires something more complex than a splitter cable.
          Hi John,

          I'm using it right now as I type this post, and the company that I work with uses the same setup on over 1000 of their computers.

          Thanks for your opinion.

          Respectfully,
          EJ Lear
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          • Profile picture of the author John Henderson
            Originally Posted by EJ Lear View Post

            I'm using it right now as I type this post, and the company that I work with uses the same setup on over 1000 of their computers.

            Thanks for your opinion.
            Hi there, EJ.

            So you're saying that you can take the output of a graphics card running at, say 1600x1200 pixels, and convert it into two separate images across two different screens to create an extended, continuous desktop measuring 3200x1200... using nothing more than a $6 cable splitter?

            My word, I have learned something new today.
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            • Profile picture of the author EJ Lear
              Originally Posted by John Henderson View Post

              Hi there, EJ.

              So you're saying that you can take the output of a graphics card running at, say 1600x1200 pixels, and convert it into two separate images across two different screens to create an extended, continuous desktop measuring 3200x1200... using nothing more than a $6 cable splitter?

              My word, I have learned something new today.
              Yes, but after doing some research I noticed that its exclusive to Dell and the part mentioned above will not work (I'll revise the above post). I'll look at the part number necessary to do this tomorrow (I think that it's Dell part no 0X2026) but I'll check to make sure.

              Thanks for pointing this out!

              Respectfully,
              EJ
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              • Profile picture of the author John Henderson
                Originally Posted by EJ Lear View Post

                Yes, but after doing some research I noticed that its exclusive to Dell and the part mentioned above will not work (I'll revise the above post). I'll look at the part number necessary to do this tomorrow (I think that it's Dell part no 0X2026) but I'll check to make sure.

                Thanks for pointing this out!
                No problem, EJ... $6 just seemed a little too good to be true.

                Take care,
                John.
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    • Profile picture of the author Lloyd Buchinski
      For all the multimonitor fans, Lenovo has a dual monitor notebook. It
      was over $4000 but the second slightly smaller monitor slides out
      from behind the first.

      Originally Posted by digileaf View Post

      You have spare USB ports!?! With everything being USB these days, I'm constantly swapping attachments.
      You can get a usb hub that lets you hook up about 6 usb ports to
      one, and if you need it you can get 6 more usb hubs and hook them
      up to the first one and have... oops, I lost me, but quite a lot of usb
      connections.

      Big Mike had a post in the OT forum about a BBQ driven by about 36
      usb cables but they were all built into one computer by someone
      enthusiastic.
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      • Profile picture of the author John Henderson
        Originally Posted by Lloyd Buchinski View Post

        You can get a usb hub that lets you hook up about 6 usb ports to one, and if you need it you can get 6 more usb hubs and hook them up to the first one and have... oops, I lost me, but quite a lot of usb connections.
        Or you can just buy a 13 port USB hub...
        Amazon.com: Usb 2.0 13-Port Hub W/Ac Adapter:...Amazon.com: Usb 2.0 13-Port Hub W/Ac Adapter:...
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  • Profile picture of the author ss61288
    That's awesome thanks for sharing. It is really handy to shift screens over to a standby monitor while you work on your 'active' monitor. Choices choices choices...
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  • Profile picture of the author jacstone193
    Thanks for the info - useful !
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  • Profile picture of the author Andyhenry
    I love those -I connected 8 of them to one computer when I was speaking at an event in Singapore last year, they're cool.

    But I did find that occasionally they would go weird, but I think that was because the connections need to be solid on the cables or they're temperamental.
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  • Profile picture of the author tommygadget
    I actually bought two used Dell laptops for $200 each and used those. When FF freezes up your computer, the other two "screens" keep going

    TomG.
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    • Profile picture of the author John Henderson
      Originally Posted by tommygadget View Post

      I actually bought two used Dell laptops for $200 each and used those. When FF freezes up your computer, the other two "screens" keep going
      Yeah, that's another way of doing it, Tommy. But I think that's called "having a whole computer network to yourself"!
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    • Profile picture of the author theyoungmarketer
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      • Profile picture of the author Andyhenry
        Originally Posted by theyoungmarketer View Post

        I use 2 screens already and was wondering if I could add a third, maybe this will be the solution?

        You can add as many as you like - Like I said, I used 8 of them with one computer and it was fine. They're the cheapest way I've seen.

        I also have a 6 monitor system but for that one I have a special video card which drives 6 monitors and it wasn't cheap.
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  • Profile picture of the author John Henderson
    You're right Andy, the connections do have to be carefully managed.

    Another consideration, is the speed of your CPU. These gizmos don't have a Graphics Processing Unit of their own, so they put the workload of updating the picture onto the CPU. The more monitors you add, the faster your CPU needs to be!
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  • Profile picture of the author John Henderson
    The particular model of USB-to-DVI adapter that I've bought allows up to 6 monitors to be added to a single computer. But as I mentioned in reply to Andy Henry, the more monitors you add, the quicker your CPU has to be, because it's the CPU that's calculating any changes in the image on those screens.

    Naturally, having 6 screens of spreadsheets is a lot less taxing for the CPU than trying to play movies.
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  • Profile picture of the author Teresa Coppes
    I always wanted to ask this:

    You have one mouse but how does that work with two screens? Do you just move your mouse to the right/left and it takes over on the 2nd screen?

    Does that even make sense? Heads a bit foggy from a cold.
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    • Profile picture of the author John Henderson
      Originally Posted by Teresa_C View Post

      I always wanted to ask this:

      You have one mouse but how does that work with two screens? Do you just move your mouse to the right/left and it takes over on the 2nd screen?
      Teresa, that's exactly how it works. The two screens act as two halves of one big desktop.

      So, if your pointer's on the left-hand screen, you can just keep moving it to the right. And as it disappears into the right-hand side of the left-hand display, it re-appears on the left-hand side of the right-hand display. You can just drag windows from one screen to the other.
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  • Profile picture of the author sjessica
    i've always wanted a 2nd monitor
    way more productive
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    • Profile picture of the author John Henderson
      Originally Posted by sjessica View Post

      i've always wanted a 2nd monitor
      way more productive
      Yeah, and now you can add that second monitor really cheaply.

      Because the USB-to-DVI adapter is an external device, you don't lose it when you sell/give away/junk your existing computer. When you upgrade your PC/Mac to another model, you can move one of these gizmos over to your new machine!
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      • Profile picture of the author 4morereferrals
        Ive had 2 monitors since Matrox made dual head video cards ... when the card was > $200 and my LCD's were $700 each! About 10 yrs now I think.

        I cannot fathom doing it any other way - well except for maybe a 32" wide screen 1080p in super hi rez mode

        I find it soooo much more productive for the day job especially.
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  • Profile picture of the author FlexibilityTheme
    Dual screens are so much more efficient. I use dual Dell 24" LCD's and prior to that dual 22" CRT. Wouldn't ever go back!
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  • Profile picture of the author Thomas Wilkinson
    Its like going from dialup to broadband. Once you use multiple monitors
    you'll be ruined for ever using just one again.

    Tom
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  • Profile picture of the author WizzyWizh
    That is just awesome! Thanks for sharing, John! I'll look on ebay for a USB-to-DVI adapter .
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    • Profile picture of the author John Henderson
      Originally Posted by WizzyWizh View Post

      That is just awesome! Thanks for sharing, John! I'll look on ebay for a USB-to-DVI adapter .
      Good idea, WizzyWizh! You could also try searching Google Shopping for "USB graphics adapter", "USB DVI adapter" or "USB VGA adapter".
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  • Profile picture of the author jms.mrtn
    wow thas great, Im thinking of doing this asap!!!
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    • Profile picture of the author John Henderson
      Originally Posted by jms.mrtn View Post

      wow thas great, Im thinking of doing this asap!!!
      It's worth doing even if you just add a 17" monitor. An extra 1280x1024 pixels is still very useful!
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  • Profile picture of the author xga
    This is great. Thanks for sharing.

    A few years ago, when I go the multi-monitors route, I had to buy additional graphic cards, plug them into my PC and spent the next few days trying to make the different drivers work together.
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  • Profile picture of the author rahulchandra
    Thanks.... i 've been looking for something like this for quite some time now!
    But Is there anything similar to connect a monitor to an LCD TV i have a 25" LCD hdready tv which is a spare and i was thinking about jacking it up with my computer, but it requires a DV cable or somthing...any clues?
    keep up the good work!
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  • Profile picture of the author JimmyD
    Thanks John
    This is very timely as I am just replacing a dead laptop to which I'd attached a second monitor. My new Sony all in one doesn't have a monitor port and I'm lost without the second monitor...
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  • Profile picture of the author Renee Blue
    You can get a cheap nice 19 or larger CRT monitor off of craigslist for less than 50 most of the time.
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  • Profile picture of the author Josh Anderson
    You have spare USB ports!?! With everything being USB these days, I'm constantly swapping attachments.
    You can buy a usb card at wal mart for a few bucks and just pop it into your computer to give you more ports. There are also port splitters you can plug into one port to give you several more.
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  • Profile picture of the author MrYossu
    Just a quickie. Having spent far too long looking at this this afternoon, it seems that the easiest (and cheapest) option is just to buy a second graphics card. These can come in pretty cheap, and most versions of Windows will recognise both cards and allow you to run dual monitors.

    This is cheaper than the device mentioned here, and is neater as the extra hardware is tucked away inside the PC instead of hanging around outside.

    Hope this helps
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    • Profile picture of the author John Henderson
      Originally Posted by MrYossu View Post

      Just a quickie. Having spent far too long looking at this this afternoon, it seems that the easiest (and cheapest) option is just to buy a second graphics card. These can come in pretty cheap, and most versions of Windows will recognise both cards and allow you to run dual monitors.

      This is cheaper than the device mentioned here, and is neater as the extra hardware is tucked away inside the PC instead of hanging around outside.
      Hi, Mr Yossu. If you can find a dual-head graphics card for less than £35 and aren't afraid of opening up your PC and installing cards, then it sounds like that's the solution for you.

      However many computer users use laptops, and in my own case, my Mac Mini has no expansion slots. Hence my delight at finding a USB-based solution to the problem.
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  • Profile picture of the author JimmyD
    Wow, thanks for the Novatech lead. Ordered at 14:00 yesterday and has just arrived (11:30)... and I selected free delivery!
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    • Profile picture of the author John Henderson
      Originally Posted by JimmyD View Post

      Wow, thanks for the Novatech lead. Ordered at 14:00 yesterday and has just arrived (11:30)... and I selected free delivery!
      That's fantastic, Jimmy! It's good to know that my thread actually made a difference to someone! Have you set it up already? Is working well?
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  • Profile picture of the author Kunle Olomofe
    Ok dumb question...

    Why would you need more than one monitor if you're in IM?

    Isn't that what tabs and windows already do? What kind of extra browsing etc are you doing that requires extra hardware like that?

    I'm a techdummie so be kind...
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    • Profile picture of the author John Henderson
      Originally Posted by Kunle Olomofe View Post

      Ok dumb question...

      Why would you need more than one monitor if you're in IM?

      Isn't that what tabs and windows already do? What kind of extra browsing etc are you doing that requires extra hardware like that?

      I'm a techdummie so be kind...
      Everybody's needs are different, Kunle; I personally find it very useful to have such a big desktop. I can have two outlines, a word processor document and a mindmap diagram on display all at the same time. This is very helpful when you are trying to "piece together" some ideas to create a product.
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  • Profile picture of the author L.G. Carter
    Maybe is a stupid question, or probably you answered already and i missed it, but you can do that also with a laptop?

    Carter
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    • Profile picture of the author eshopcompany
      Great post, I was just looking into buying something to do this... Now you have helped me make up my mind I will forsure be doing this now... again great post thanks for the information
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      • Profile picture of the author John Henderson
        Originally Posted by eshopcompany View Post

        Great post, I was just looking into buying something to do this... Now you have helped me make up my mind I will forsure be doing this now... again great post thanks for the information
        No problem, eshopcompany. It gives you the confidence to move forward when someone demonstrates that it can easily be done!
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    • Profile picture of the author John Henderson
      Originally Posted by L.G. Carter View Post

      Maybe is a stupid question, or probably you answered already and i missed it, but you can do that also with a laptop?
      Absolutely. You can do this with any machine with a USB 2.0 port -- USB 1.1 is just too slow to update the image on the screen in real-time.
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  • Profile picture of the author delac23
    Thank you, pretty cool advice
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  • Profile picture of the author WinsonYeung
    Wow ! you can now start watching movie and do your im stuff together !
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