USB Display Adapter

Add An Additional Monitor To Your Computer Through A USB Port

An additional monitor on your computer can greatly increase your productivity.  The second monitor comes in really handy for photo/video editing, audio editing, writing/blogging, stock trading, and for any project for which you might want to free up some space on your desktop.

If you have a video card on your computer with multiple outlets, some of the expense is removed in that all you need to do is connect the additional monitor to one of those outlets, either directly or through an adapter (vga to dvi, dvi to hdmi, etc), and configure the driver’s software.  Unfortunately, many computers, my iMac being one of them, lack the connectivity or the ability to upgrade to a video card that allows the extra connectivity to add the additional monitor.  Fortunately, there is a fix.

One solution, is to add a USB powered monitor.  Dell, AOC, and a few others have these on the market, starting roughly at $130.00 (US).  These monitors are light weight, most travel well, and are great for business presentations, writing, and general net surfing.  You simply install the software, plug the monitor into an available USB port on a computer (most manufacturers claim you can also plug into a powered USB hub, but you might find better results going directly to a free USB port on your computer), do some simple configuration, and your second monitor is up and running in a few minutes.  I bought an AOC for our office, an it is a good solution for most applications, unless you are doing video or graphic work, where it just lacks the necessary color and definition.

USB Display Adapter

j5Create USB Display Adapter

The last solution is to use a USB Display Adapter. Basically, these are compact USB powered external video cards housed in a very small rectangular case. One end of the case provides the video connection (VGA, DVI, or HDMI), and on the other end is the USB cable to connect to your computer.  Setup is just like the USB monitor:  install the software,  plug in the monitor into the case (some manufacturers supply VGA, DVI, or HDM adapters), plug the USB cable into an available USB port on the computer, configure the software, and your second monitor is ready to go.  Diamond, j5 Create, and Sabrent, are a few of the usb display adapter manufacturers.  This is a great solution if you have an extra monitor sitting around gathering dust.

USB Display Adapter

The Command Module At Larry Labs

For me, adding the USB Display Adapter was the way to go.  I wanted another monitor on my iMac, and had a Samsung 911T LCD monitor hiding in my closet.  I purchased a j5 Create JUA230 DVI USB Display Adapter for $56.00 (US) at a local “Big Box” electronic’s store.  Installing the  j5 Create was a breeze, as was the configuration.  When using the j5 Create usb display adapter, the software allows you to mirror the main computer screen, or extend it.  Because you are actually using two video cards, you can set the second monitor with its own resolution, color profiles, and use different wall paper than the main monitor.  The mouse moves smoothly back and forth between the monitors, and the keyboard functions equally as well when inputting on either monitor.  Unlike the AOC USB Monitor I purchased, color, graphics, and video (up to 720p) works as well on the Samsung as it did when it was plugged into a computer video card (In the photo of the Command Module at Larry Labs, the Samsung monitor using the j5 Create USB Display Adapter is on the immediate “left”).

Summary:  The reasons to do this are:  Adding a USB Monitor to your computer will increase your productivity, make your computing experience a more enjoyable one;  and using a USB port to provide video helps keep the cost down.   An additional monitor is a “must have”.

17 Comments

  • rtrg says:

    Does a video adapter usb powered as in the photo, work when the on board video, or apg card does not, weather enabled or not as an alternative to a bios settings search or update?

    • prometheus says:

      The simple answer is “it depends”. There are both software and hardware variables at play here. First of all, the USB powered video card is primarily designed to be used in conjunction with an “on board” video card or chip set. It is the bios that sets up the “on board” video components to sent and receive data. Software provided by the USB card’s vendor, or already in the computer’s operating system is initiating most of the bios’s work for the USB card. So, in theory, the USB card could stand alone; however, there are plenty of reasons why it might not. For example: The software code might require both cards to be paired. More important is the fact that the USB card maybe getting some, if not all of its signal from the original card. The simplest way to find out is to hook up a USB card and see if it works.

      Larry

      • rtrg says:

        The desktop is an HP COMPAQ DC7900 BUSINESS PRO. I have two. One came with a video card, one did not. #1 and #2 respectively. #2 had video without card. #1 ran well with and without the card. So I removed it. It was not until later that my 6000, a mico tower, did not put out video from it’s card desoite the card was enabled in bios. As an experiment I used the adapter on the 7900. Nothing. I downloaded the graphics drivers from HP. The adapter now puts out video MINUS ALL the desktop icons including the SYSTEM TRAY. I did not try it on the 6000. I was able to regain video by using an old generic PCI card. There is only one slot. The audio also does not work. Using a USB adapter solved that issue. Always works. The video adapter is for both 3 and 2 USB No mention is of 1.1 or 1 USB. These HP’s go back to 2005 thru 2009. 1.1 is probably not used here. If there are no usable simple solutions than the adapters get tossed.

  • Allen Larson says:

    usb 2.0 will not play videos, even though a 3.0 usb fits, it won’t work.. newer pcs have 3.0 however

    • prometheus says:

      Allen,

      You may have a driver issue. I use a 2.0 usb port and video plays fine, and I have replicated the results on my other computer. On either computer, one would be hard pressed to tell which monitor was using the computer’s video card, and which one was using a card attached to the 2.0 usb port.

      Larry

  • Vicki Owens says:

    Larry, I have an insurance agency and I use an HP all-in-one computer. It does not have anywhere to hook up another monitor so I too purchased the AOC USB Monitor 3.0. I downloaded the software and plugged it in to the USB on the all-in-one. I can’t seem to get it to work as a separate monitor. They both work as one monitor. If I open something on the HP and another popup type window comes up it will come up on the AOC. I want to be able to have different things on each monitor. Can you help me with this?

    • prometheus says:

      Hi Vicki,
      I am not quite sure what AOC included with their driver, if anything. So, let’s presume you just got the driver, and it is installed. To set the monitors up, you will need to go to your Window’s system configuration files. There, you should find something like “Display” or “Monitors” (Sorry, I don’t remember the exact jargon, I haven’t used Window’s in quite awhile). By clicking on the appropriate icon, you should see options for screen resolution, refresh rate, and so on for both monitors. The fact that you monitors are showing the same thing indicates they are in the “mirrored” setting. There should be an additional setting that allows you to “spread” your virtual desktop to the new monitor, or you might simply need to “uncheck” the “mirrored” setting. That should get you going….

      Larry

  • Fred Castagna says:

    I am trying to add an extended monitor to my desktop. I purchased a usb2/3 to VGA adapter by eberry. After installing the software my computer recognized the second monitor. I selected “extend” during installation, but my mouse will not jump to the second monitor. I can mirror the monitors and I can select one monitor or the other to work on, but not as a single extended monitor. I did notice the resolution on the second monitor is lower. Any ideas for getting the mouse to work across both monitors? Thanks.
    Fred

    • prometheus says:

      Fred,

      You did not mention your operating system, but I think you might have to try to “extend” your video through your OS’s native video configuration. I resolved this problem with a similar setup to yours on Windows 7; in this instance the monitor’s driver’s were conflicting with those of the OS. In addition, you should be able to set the resolution separately for both monitors. Finally, if this doesn’t work, I would contact eBerry for some support.

      Best of luck,
      Larru

  • Robert says:

    I have a Hp all in one pc and the monitors out.. can i use a USB to VGA adaptor for a second display without any installation required

    • prometheus says:

      Robert,

      The answer to your question is both “Yes” and “No”. I don’t know what operating system you have, but there is usually some software installation required to drive the monitor. You might (as in “slim chance) be able to do this without software installation with some contemporary OS’s, but the fact that you are trying to do this through a VGA monitor, leads me to believe that you have an older computer,and possibly old as well operating system installed. The odds are that the success of what you are trying to accomplish is not likely.

      Larry

  • Jessica says:

    Hi Larry,
    I have a Surface Pro 3 with only one USB port things get tricky. I have two monitors I would lIke to hookup but I would prefer to not use the Surface screen just the two monitors. If I got a powered usb hub and plugged two usb >dvi adaptors in would that work?
    Thank heaps for your knowledge.

    • prometheus says:

      Jessica,

      Don’t thank me too soon, as I haven’t tried this, but it seems like it should work for the hardware; the adapters would have two distinct MAC addresses, one for each adapter. The real “IF” here is “if” the software will support it. I suppose Windows will see each monitor, but on blanking the Surface screen, – I don’t know.

      So…., I don’t know if I was much help. Hope you can get it to work.

      Larry

    • sammyboi says:

      I don’t think this would work because of the fact that all of the graphics for the two monitors would come from the tablets integrated graphics or “shared graphics” and have to go through a USB 3.0 or 3.1 port so there is a cap to how much data can travel over one port. Even if you were to use a USB C port the tablet may take the input as one and both the external displays may be mirrored.

      • prometheus says:

        Actually, it would probably work. You would need to use an external graphics card like I used in article. So, one monitor is using the integrated graphics card on your motherboard, and the other monitor would use the external usb powered graphics card. You OS then should allow you to mirror the monitors, or use both monitors for one large desktop.

        Larry

        • Pixleboy2 says:

          But all the input is going through one port so the computer would detect it as one input and send the same output through the one use port therefore you wouldn’t be able to get an extended display as the computer only detects one

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