In a general manner, dual monitors refer to the use of multiple physical display devices, like multiple monitors, televisions, or projectors, which help increase the area available to computer programs that are running on a single computer system.
These additional monitors can be treated as extensions of the desktop, or as mirrors of the central display, and can be configured via the properties tab in the window display dialog box. Also, as the additional monitors are powered by networked cables, the monitors can be located wherever the network is available.
The Macintosh operating system is known to handle the dual monitor scenario better than Windows. Setting wallpapers is a very simple process in Mac, while Windows cannot set images on a per screen basis by default.
In a survey, users who had the experience of working on dual monitors said that they preferred 2 smaller monitors in the dual monitor mode over a single larger monitor. It also indicated that the users found using dual monitors most beneficial when the application used palettes, or when 2 or more windows had to be opened for programming and debugging.
The main reason that computers are becoming cheaper by the day is because monitors are becoming cheaper. The process of setting up dual monitors is rather simple.
- Boot your computer in safe mode, and ensure that you have one video card and monitor showing in the device manager. If there are multiple entries, then all extra entries have to be deleted.
- Open your system and install another video card in the appropriate slot. Connect it to the monitor. Close the system.
- Restart the computer. Everything should work as usual, and the second monitor will not show anything.
- Install the drivers for the second video card. This is a very simple process, and you just have to follow the steps provided by the wizard. Verify if the drivers have been installed correctly via the device manager, and that the display adapter is detected in the right manner.
- Open the 'Display Properties' window. The settings tab will display a big black box with '1' displayed on it. There will be a small black-grey box next to it that will display '2'.
- Click on the small black-grey box and set the desktop resolution and the color depth. Next, check the checkbox at the bottom of the tab which reads 'Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor' to enable the second monitor. After applying the changes, the small black-grey box will now resemble will the big black box which has '1' marked on it.
- The second monitor will now behave as an extension of the first monitor.
- Similar steps have to repeated if you want to add more monitors to your system.
Unfortunately, even with so many advantages, there are a few disadvantages. The main disadvantage of using dual monitors is that the resources of the video card are halved the instant the second display device is connected.
The decreased processing power leads to performance that can be unacceptable on both devices. There are a couple of ways to resolve this issue, like using an additional video adapter, or using a more powerful graphics card.
Another prominent disadvantage of dual monitors is seen when full screen software are used, as most of these applications make use of the absolute edge of the display device to control view movement.
To truly enjoy the advantage of dual monitors, you should use LCD monitors instead of CRT monitors. Though LCDs cost comparatively more than CRTs, they are much more efficient, in both space and energy. Also, LCDs permit more flexibility with the layout, and allow you to benefit more from a dual monitor setup.