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.
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.
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”.