There are many ways to upgrade a computer, but few enhance productivity as expanding your desktop space by adding a second monitor to your system. If your computer already has an unused monitor connector, setting up another monitor usually involves little more than simply connecting it. But if you dont have a spare graphics connector, you face the prospect of having to open up the system to add another graphics card or replace your existing one, which may not desirable or even possible in some cases.
If you fall into that second group, EVGA's the $79.99 adapter ‑ the UV Plus+ UV16 ‑ offers a hassle-free path to that second monitor. The UV16 is an external display adapter that connects to your system via USB 2.0 and lets you hook up a standard display (CRT, LCD, or projector) without having to crack open your system.
Specs and Compatibility
The UV16 is a square device about the size of a small tape measure that sports an integrated DVI port and comes with a DVI to VGA adapter for use with older analog monitors. A retractable USB cable is included to connect the device to your system.
The UV Plus+ UV16 works with 32- or 64-bit Vista, XP (32-bit only) and Windows 2000, and supports a maximum resolution of 1600 x 1200 allowing it to work with up to a 22-inch widescreen monitor. Theres also a slightly less expensive and lower resolution ($59.99, 1440 x 900) UV12 version.
Since the UV Plus+ doesnt contain a conventional graphics processor, it depends on your systems CPU for a helping hand-- the minimum system requirements for the UV Plus+ are a 1.2 GHz CPU and 512 MB, but a dual-core processor and 1 GB RAM are recommended (and required for Vista).
A Simple Setup
We tested our UV16 on a Vista desktop system that exceeded the devices recommended system requirements. Unlike installing or replacing a graphics card, getting the UV16 up and running is quick and easy, and you dont have to power down your system to do it.
After installing the drivers, we connected a 19-inch Viewsonic monitor to the UV16 and then connected the UV16 to the system. Within about 30 seconds, the second monitor sprung to life and was running at its native resolution of 1280 x 1024 with our Windows desktop automatically extended across it (complete with Aero effects like transparent menus).
By accessing a control panel via a tray icon we could configure the UV16 to run at any of the monitors supported resolutions, rotate the display to accommodate monitors that can pivot between landscape and portrait modes or physically orient the UV16 display relative to a primary monitor (e.g. left, right, above or below).
|This external adapter, the EVGA UV Plus+ UV16, lets you add up to six monitors to one computer.|
For the most part, programs run on the UV16 display look and act as they would on a conventional graphics card. We had no trouble running a host of common work applications, like browsers, e-mail and IM utilities, office apps and the like.
Helpfully, when you close an application window running on the UV16 it will open in the same place the next time you launch it, and if you disconnect the UV16, all of its open windows automatically migrate back to your primary display (though they dont return to the UV16 when you reconnect it).
Given that the UV16 lacks real graphics-rendering brawn, there are some things it cant do very well. For example, you wont want to run a graphics-intensive game or other 3D-type application on the UV16s display, especially at anything close to full-screen resolution, because the results will be far from satisfying. The same is true of high-definition or even just relatively high-quality video ‑ attempts to play standard DVDs suffered from minor but perceptible frame rate reductions, and we also noticed that the mouse cursor responsiveness often became sluggish during full-screen video playback.
Having said that, low- and moderate-resolution video of the kind typically streamed from the Internet (like YouTubes Flash-based video) played back well and without any ill effects. The UV16 supports most media players, but not all it handles Windows Media Player and RealPlayer, but not QuickTime.
If youve already got two monitors, you can use a UV16 to add up to six devices to a system (the units have grooves allowing them to stack neatly atop each other). Instead of extending your desktop onto your UV16-powered monitor, you also have the option to use it to mirror your primary display, a feature that can be useful for demos or any situation where you dont want a large number of people to have to gather around a single monitor.
The UV16s $80 price tag is about what youd pay for a halfway-decent graphics card, so it wont really save you any money, but it saves you the hassle of a potentially troublesome trip inside your system. While the EVGA UV Plus+ UV 16 isnt a no-compromise way to get more desktop real estate, it is a low-compromise option, which will make it an attractive one for many.
Price: $79.99 (MSRP)
Pros: Offers simple way to add extra monitors without adding or replacing internal graphics card; supports high-resolutions and widescreen displays
Cons: Costs as much as a conventional graphics card; not appropriate for graphics-intensive applications or high-resolution video
Joe Moran spent six years as an editor and analyst with Ziff-Davis Publishing and several more as a freelance product reviewer. He's also worked in technology public relations and as a corporate IT manager, and he's currently principal of Neighborhood Techs, a technology service firm in Naples, Fla. He holds several industry certifications, including Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) and Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA).
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