Dual screens and software solutions

On my main PC I use a 17″ TFT monitor which I often find quite restrictive when using programs such as Photoshop or a variety of flight sims. In particular with Microsoft Flight simulator, the screen can often look  cluttered if  I need to bring up the GPS display Radio Stack.

I can't see

One solution would be to buy a larger screen, something like a 22″ or alternatively,  buy another 17″ TFT and set up a dual screen display. I’m intrigued to see if there’s  an alternative solution which might allow me to utilise one of my spare laptop displays instead. After spending a little time researching online, I discovered three solutions that might work.

The first is Synergy –  http://synergy2.sourceforge.net/ Synergy is an open source software solution that enables you to mirror your main display either too another monitor (connected to another PC) or a laptop screen via an Ethernet connection. I’ve been playing around with this for a project at work and it works seamlessly when i tried it. However, for my own use,  mirroring the display wouldn’t work in this case as i wanted to extend the desktop.

The second  is called MaxiVista – http://www.maxivista.com/ which does offers both mirrored and extended desktop functions over multiple screens via connected computes over Ethernet/Lan. The only downside is that it’s not free but at $29.95, is quite tempting. After downloading the 30 day trial I set it up using a very old laptop I have (see June 6th Post – https://stiggyblog.wordpress.com/2009/06/06/old-laptop-fun/

It worked perfectly and looked great when I extended my Windows desktop. With MS Flight Simulator, I hit a snag but this was was more to do with the aging laptop hardware’s inability to cope with the display updates rather than the software itself. In extended mode the frame rate was so low on the laptop it was unusable although it did work really well as second display to various cockpit controls  and external aircraft views.

IMG_4236 (1024x683)

The third (and free!) option works similarly to the above and also included Pocket PC support. It’s called Zonescreen http://www.zoneos.com/zonescreen.htm

Here’s a shot of MS Fight Simulator running on my main screen and PDA. Here I’ve extended the GPS display to my PDA. It works by using ActiveSync and my PDA docking station to create a connection to my PC. Totally fantastic!

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IMG_4334 (683x1024)Placing one of the aircraft’s external views on to the PDA worked really well too especially the ‘Chase View’ when landing the aircraft! Might also be useful set to a rear view in Combat Simulator so I can see if anyone’s sneaking up to shoot me from behind:-)

I’ve been happy with this setup for a few days now, but I’d still really like two equally sized monitors side by side. I’ve been browsing at eBay and have found the exact same model going for next to nothing.  It seems that nobody wants 17″ TFT’s anymore because I won it at a veeeery low price.

My graphics card (Nvidia Geforece 7600GT) contains both VGA and DVI output so, using a VGA to DVI converter I’ve managed to get both monitors connected, setup and desktop extended using the nvidia control panel (although Win XP options for extended desktops worked just as good).

Here’s a few photo’s taken this evening but the low light/bright screen is a little difficult to photograph.

Desktop, showing 2560 x1024 wallpaper

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Gunning the An-2.

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Flying over RAF Waddington.

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An-2 at Sunset

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Cabin lights on, now I can see!

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Runway flyby.

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If i get change tomorrow I’ll combine both monitors, my laptop ( for extended control views) and my PDA with the GPS display. Also looking forward to trying out the dual screen options in Adobe Lightroom 2.

Dual Screens…..highly recommended 🙂

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