Using netbook as external monitor for laptop
August 17, 2009 3:57 AM   Subscribe

Can I use a netbook as an external monitor for a laptop? If so, how?

Would I need any special equipment for this, such as some kind of hardware or special software?
posted by Charmian to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
One way of sort-of doing it is using Synergy, where you can share a mouse and keyboard with the same computer. You could also directly network the two computers using an ethernet cross-over cable.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 4:10 AM on August 17, 2009

MaxiVista does this but it's not free.
posted by Memo at 4:14 AM on August 17, 2009

Best answer: I've pulled apart dozens of netbooks and I can safely say that they're not designed to be modular with standardised plugs. Instead they'll save money and just connect directly between the video card and the screen, or have a proprietary adaptor. It's the same for video as it is for keyboard and speakers so there's no internal VGA plug for video, or RCA jack for audio, or USB for keyboard, etc.

To the extent that the internal plugs are common it's an incidental and temporary agreement between suppliers to help the economics of scale. Various models of netbook will have different plugs between models, or even between years of manufacture.

So for a hardware solution you'll need to tell us the model of netbook, the year, and even that's a longshot that will invalidate your warranty.

For a software solution you can run VNC, so you'd have a crossover cable between your two machines.

Synergy only shares mouse and keyboard, not video, so it's probably not suitable.
posted by holloway at 4:50 AM on August 17, 2009

Whilst I'm a fan of VNC, you might want to look at Remote Desktop.

It's built into Windows and therefore probably integrates slightly better.
posted by mr_silver at 5:00 AM on August 17, 2009

Best answer: Just to clarify my suggestion: if you share folders between computers using an ethernet cross-over, you can access any file using either computer. Using synergy you can then control what you are seeing on the two computers, using keyboard+mouse. So it's not quite the same as dragging a window from one screen to the other, but you can access all files and set them up to display on the screens as you like.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 5:44 AM on August 17, 2009

I use Maxivista and it is awesome. It allows your second computer to act exactly like an additional monitor, you can position it through the display properties panel. The "pro" version allows you to use the primary computer as a KVM switch to remotely control the second computer. The computers are connected over the LAN. I believe it's supposed to work with Vista and 64-bit flavors.

There is a free 2-week demo. After I used it I had to buy it, and I rarely buy software, but there's no open source alternative that I know of. Unfortunately they recently raised the price to $50 from $40 for the pro version. :(
posted by greensweater at 5:58 AM on August 17, 2009

Oh look at this, maybe ZoneScreen will do what you want. Haven't used it though.
posted by greensweater at 6:01 AM on August 17, 2009

What are you trying to do remotely? Run applications in general, or watch videos, or play games?
posted by smackfu at 6:22 AM on August 17, 2009

VNC or Remote Desktop will be good enough for most uses, but if you're trying to play games or watch video I'm afraid you're out of luck.

Honestly, if this is just a last ditch effort to make your netbook useful you should sell it on craigslist and buy a monitor.
posted by monkeymadness at 7:08 AM on August 17, 2009

Response by poster: What I am trying to do: access files on the laptop, use some low-level applications.

Honestly, if this is just a last ditch effort to make your netbook useful you should sell it on craigslist and buy a monitor.

No, it's not. I don't currently own a netbook.
posted by Charmian at 11:35 AM on August 17, 2009

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