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.