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First Look: See2 Xtreme, USB video card

updated 03:50 pm EDT, Thu August 28, 2008

See2 Xtreme, video card

Monitors keep getting bigger and bigger, but it seems that the more display space you have, the more you may want. While Leopard provides Spaces so you can flip through multiple virtual desktops, you may prefer connecting multiple monitors to your Mac instead. For a simple solution to plugging in additional monitors to any Mac, take a look at Tritton's See2 Xtreme external video card.

The traditional method for connecting multiple monitors is to plug in multiple video graphics cards or install a single video card that provides multiple outputs. This solution works fine with the Mac Pro (laptop Mac users have a built-in video output already), but Mac mini and iMac users won't allow installation of a separate video card. That's where this USB device comes in handy.

The main item is the external video card itself, which appears as a small box, roughly the size of a deck of playing cards (4.5-inch length, 2.0-inch width, and 0.88-inch height). The external video connector is a DVI port, but the package includes a DVI-to-VGA adapter for plugging it into most standard monitors.

To make this unit work with your Mac, you must first install a special video driver that comes on an included CD. After installing this video driver (and rebooting), you can plug the device directly into the USB 2.0 of your Mac. (You must connect directly to the Mac and not through another USB port such as the one found on the keyboard.)


The parts of the See2 Xtreme external video card


The only system requirements are Mac OS X 10.4.11 or greater, an open USB 2.0 port, and a 1.5GHz processor, which means this device can work with older PowerPC-based Macs as well as the newer Intel-based Macs. The unit supports monitor resolutions as low as 800 x 600 and as high as 1920 x 1200 on displays up to 30-inches.

When working with multiple monitors, you can display images in mirror mode, which means the exact same image appears on all connected monitors. This can be useful for connecting a projector to your Mac during a presentation so you can control the screen without craning your neck to see the projected image.

More interesting and useful is displaying images in extended mode, which tricks your Mac into thinking it's working on a single, massive screen. In extended mode, dragging the mouse off the side of one monitor makes it appear on the second monitor. The traditional Mac menu appears on only one monitor, leaving the entire screen on the second monitor free for displaying additional windows from your programs, or just showing the entire view of a single, large window, such as a massive spreadsheet or digital image.


Extended mode lets multiple monitors display a single viewing area


If you use Parallels or Fusion, you can display Mac OS X on one monitor and another operating system, such as Windows or Linux, on the second monitor. Working with multiple monitors may seem odd at first, but once you try it, you'll get spoiled by its larger viewing area that using a single monitor will feel archaic.

For a hassle-free, inexpensive ($119.99) way to connect multiple monitors to any Mac, the See2 Xtreme external video card may be your best option. Now you can connect multiple monitors to your Mac mini or iMac, or any Mac in general, and enjoy the benefits of dual monitors as easily as plugging in a cable.




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. Makosuke

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Misleading Review

    I could be reading wrong or misunderstanding, but the note in the review that this device "tricks your Mac into thinking it’s working on a single, massive screen." Tricks?

    It sure sounds from the specs and description that there's no "tricking" involved--it just behaves as a second video output, which allows the MacOS--natively--to either mirror or create a second monitor. Exactly the same thing that would happen with any second video card/second video output, and this has been the behavior since the pre-OSX era.

    If I'm wrong, apologies, but otheriwise it sounds an awful lot like the writer doesn't firmly grasp how the MacOS handles multiple monitors or did an extraordinarily bad job of explaining it.

  1. GreenMnM

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +1

    iMac and MacBook?

    Uhm, only the Mac mini is limited. The article mentions iMacs but they DO have a second video out option, you just need to buy the right adapter and plug a second display in. It's pretty simple. My iMac (Core Duo) is plugged into my HDTV with a mini-DVI to DVI adapter and then an HDMI to DVI cable. The same can be done with a MacBook. Sure, you can add a second internal video card to the iMac or MacBook, but just like the MacBook Pro you can add a second display.

  1. rgathright

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +1

    EVGA UV PLUS works on PCs

    I just picked up a EVGA UV PLUS and found it does the same thing for Windows based PCs.

    http://www.epinions.com/content_447191944836

  1. radicalease

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Couldn't get it to work

    I've yet to find a positive review of this product from someone who owns a mac. Come to think of it, I've yet to find confirmation that this product can run successfully on a mac. All the responses of mac users who tried this product (including myself) confirm that the refresh rate the see2 xtreme produces on your external display is so bad it's virtually unusable, let alone for video editing or graphic design. Watching movies on it is like watching a slide show (about 1 frame a second). I'd love to see a video of a mac running this product smoothly (which might I add, in all my searching doesn't seem to be available anywhere) because I'm not convinced it can.

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