May 3, 2006 1:09 PM   Subscribe

How do I scope out the possibility of adding dual monitors to all my office's PC's?

Boss is on a paperless/less-paper kick, which means either everyone's getting a big widescreen display or dual monitors soon. It's which one of those we go with that prompts my question.

It's an accounting office. The need would be to view two applications side by side onscreen - say, the client's Quickbooks info or whatever and our tax prep software. Not much of a problem to go with a 20" or so widescreen LCD and just have both windows open & sized appropriately. But they may want to go with two separate monitors.

Problem is, we've got several different PC models in the office, most of them laptops. (Thinkpad R51s)

I'm guessing that there'd need to be a video card upgrade to run dual monitors, but I doubt that's possible on the laptops. But this is new to me, so I dunno. True/false/tips?
posted by bartleby to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My only suggestion is that if you want to improve productivity with this, and if you choose the dual-monitor route, buy everyone a license for UltraMon.
posted by Jairus at 1:14 PM on May 3, 2006

Yes for both. In fact you can even go Quadrophonic. We use a dual adapter for the laptops...Matrox dual head 2 go.
It is probably more expensive than saving a few trees...
posted by Gungho at 1:16 PM on May 3, 2006

Most laptops I've encountered in recent years can drive two displays with the desktop spanning between them, but one of them is the laptop's internal monitor.

Many full-sized docking stations for laptops can take PCI cards, which could drive a second external display, but full-sized docking stations are expensive.

I'm pretty sure there are a few CardBus video adapters out there that could be used to drive a second monitor, probably for far less than the cost of a full-sized docking station.

Matrox has a clever looking device that splits the signal from a laptop VGA port to drive multiple monitors:

There is also this USB thing, which is likely to be kind of slow, but probably fine for accounting apps:
posted by Good Brain at 1:20 PM on May 3, 2006

I have a Thinkpad T40 which drives two 19 inch monitors quite nicely with the built in video (ATI Mobility Radeon 7500). I think you need to do your research on the graphics cards in your machines. Somehow I think you will be fine.
posted by caddis at 2:00 PM on May 3, 2006

I am not certain but I believe that the IBM Dock II is compatible with the R51, and you can put a dual-DVI card in the Dock II.

At MSRP, you're paying $400 for the dock, and $150 for the card.
posted by Kwantsar at 2:31 PM on May 3, 2006

Here is more.
posted by Kwantsar at 2:32 PM on May 3, 2006

Are you running XP on the computers?

If so, you don't need a video card -- dual monitors is in the display settings natively.
posted by k8t at 10:51 PM on May 3, 2006

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