Matrox essentially invented the idea of driving multiple monitors from one computer. The ability to spread your workload across multiple screens has long been an excellent aid to productivity.
Ever-increasing flat-panel and resolution sizes mean there’s been less of a need for multi-monitor setup recently. Matrox seems to think not, though, and has bolstered its already pretty full roster. The new Matrox DualHead2Go range now includes a number of VGA and DisplayPort equipped models.
Applications for multi-display setups range from city traders to gamers to software developers and CAD workstation users.
The Digital SE, the latest addition, follows the DualHead2Go blueprint. A small black box, the DualHead2Go needs to be connected to both a spare USB port (for power only) and a DisplayPort connector on your graphics card.
The latter may already pose some problems, as not every graphics card has DisplayPort. The Digital SE is a Windows peripheral, although a Mac version is also available.
Mac OS X users can try the Digital ME instead, which works with Thunderbolt or Mini DisplayPort, and includes the OS X version of the required software.
Matrox DualHead2Go Digital SE turns one DisplayPort into two DVI-D, with USB used the power up the device
The Matrox DualHead2Go Digital SE effectively fools your PC into thinking that your two screens are actually one big flat-panel. That allows for a pretty impressive maximum resolution of 3840 x 1200 pixels. That’s equivalent to two 1920 x 1200 (16:10 aspect ratio) displays side-by-side.
Matrox DualHead2Go Digital SE: Setup and operation
Once plugged in, the Digital SE has two free DVI output ports, and you can connect a pair of suitably equipped displays or projectors.
The Matrox DualHead2Go Digital SE isn’t quite as elegant or trouble-free as the literature makes it sound. We found it trickier than Sapphire’s Vid-2X solution to hook up, for instance, and that was not straightforward.
Neither is it always a tidy solution. Two cables are supplied, Display Port and USB, of 1m and 0.9m length respectively. With these two, plus two more DVI cables snaking from the opposite side of the unit, you can be left with a morass of wires.
Should you want more control over how images are presented on the two screens, you’ll want to acquaint yourself with Matrox’s PowerDesk software. Matrox has spent many years tweaking this software, and it works extremely well.
It’s very simple to swap displays around (without needing to physically change the cables) or to divide the desktop into segments or determine which screen an application will open up on.
Matrox has even thought of little touches that can reduce aggravation – like quickly locating your mouse pointer, without having to wonder which screen to go to.
The Matrox DualHead2Go Digital SE is pleasingly light on resources, and we detected no drop in performance. As ever with these gadgets, though, the larger the resolution, the harder your graphics card will have to work. If you want to run intensive applications at anywhere near the full resolution, you’ll need a capable graphics processor.