(+) One Laptop, Two Computer Screens

The following is a Plus Edition article, written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

I must admit I have become accustomed to having two computer screens attached to my one computer at home. I have long used two 27-inch monitors connected to my one desktop computer. However, there is a problem when traveling: the tiny, single 11-inch screen on my laptop computer seems very constraining after using two side-by-side 27-inch monitors at home!

With both monitors on my desk at home, side by side, I can operate them as separate monitors or even create the illusion of one giant screen. I can open a website on one screen and a word processor on the other, then copy and paste from one screen to another. I can even open a spreadsheet and stretch it across the full width of both screens if I want. Why can’t I do that when in a hotel room? After watching a friend of mine do exactly that, I was hooked. I started looking at portable external monitors.

More often than not, I have my favorite word processing program displayed on one screen while the second screen displays incoming email messages, a chat window, perhaps the local weather report, and whatever else I wish to monitor while seated at the computer. One of my friends displays the latest stock market quotes all day long on a second screen while he works at his office. You probably can find multiple uses of your own for two or even three monitors.

I find that all the extra desktop “real estate” space makes me more productive and greatly enhances the fun of computing. When I am forced to use a computer that has a single screen, I notice the limitations right away, as the extra scrolling and alt-tabbing becomes tedious. After ten minutes of using a dual monitor setup, I can’t imagine living without it.

I love having all the desktop “real estate” available but I used to miss it when traveling. I previously wrote about using an iPad or an Android tablet as a second monitor on a computer. That worked well but the smaller screen still seemed confining. I was too used to the big monitors. I suppose I could buy a normal external monitor and use that but who wants to drag extra monitors along in the checked luggage?

Then I found a better solution: use a portable monitor. The one I selected is portable and light weight at 2.4 pounds (1.06 kilograms) and slips easily into a backpack or briefcase. I thought it would be a good match for my 2.38 pound (1.08 kilogram) MacBook Air laptop. It also works on Windows systems. One computer and two display screens in less than five pounds! I don’t mind carrying that in the briefcase.

Best of all, the portable monitor does not require any separate power supply. It plugs into the standard USB port on any laptop or desktop computer and is fully powered by that USB connection. No extra power supply is needed.

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