Mission Control refresh 2011 Edition

Mission Control

Updated Mission Control (a.k.a. my workstation) this month with the acquisition of two new 23-inch Dell UltraSharp (U2311H) LCD monitors, which I have just managed to mount. Getting them set up into a single desktop took longer, and required the use of my old Sony VAIO TZ26GN (1.06GHz) laptop. The Dells are connected via Matrox TripleHead2Go in dual-output mode, while my two older Samsung SyncMaster P2350 LCD monitors are actually connected to a Magma ExpressBox1 with a quad-output Matrox M9140 LP x 16 graphics card inside.  Finally, holding the various monitors in place are various “Desk Mount” monitor arms from Ergotron.

Some work still needs to be done to tidy/bundle up the various cables, though everything is up and working now.

Why go multi-monitor?  I wrote Increase Your Productivity with an Additional Monitor two years ago, but in a nutshell:

  • Greater efficiency: ALT-Tab is a chore and productivity killer when you have 10 or more program windows open most of the time
  • Your eyes: Why risk your eyesight squinting at a small laptop screen given the number of hours I spend at the computer a day?
  • Affordability: LCD monitors are a steal now (All the monitors on my table costs only slightly more than a single 19-inch CRT back when I was studying)

Some quick points to consider:

  • Setting up a multi-monitor setup powered by a laptop is much more challenging than with a desktop.
  • Even one additional monitor makes a big difference; consider going this route if you are not technically inclined.
  • The DualHead2Go/TripleHead2Go from Matrox are a gem and very easy to setup.
  • Note that only the DisplayPort (DP) version of  TripleHead2Go supports triple monitors in 1920×1080 resolution.
  • Quad monitor is really only possible (from a laptop) using a software-driven approach like MaxiVista (What I did), or  using DisplayLink’s USB graphics adapters.
  • Monitor arms are essential for space management – or get monitors that come with an adjustable (E.g.: height, pivot, tilt and swivel) stand.

I plan on writing a more detailed article on how to setup multi-monitor rigs, so stay tuned.

Mission Control
Another view of my workstation; you can see one of the Samsung in portrait mode
Mission Control
A close-up of the ExpressBox Pro and my old Sony VAIO TZ26GN laptop

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