Handy 2nd monitor for road warriors

Before the Tampa WinDev user group meeting started this past Tuesday, some of us were talking about the virtues of having a small second monitor to carry around in your laptop bag. I use two monitors at home, and really miss not having a second one while on the road. They really help when coding, debugging, etc. Second monitors just make you more productive. Everyone should have one.

Healy has a cool one that does both landscape and portrait mode. It’s about 10” diagonal and has a nice display. But my eyes just aren’t what they used to be and I need large fonts. We also debated the merits of having a touch monitor, and Kevinmentioned something about getting an cover that would turn a non-touch into a touch monitor.

I looked around on Amazon.com for a few minutes, read some reviews, and decided on a 14” LCD Lenovo ThinkVision LT1421 wide monitor. Resolution: 1366 x 768. The USB cable handles both the display feed and the power. It’s not a touch monitor, but it is very slim and lightweight, and it handles the 16:9 aspect ratio. Perfect.

It arrived the next day (have to love Amazon Prime!), and it is sweet. It has a cool little kickstand (which has a rubberized tip so it won’t slide – very nice touch). You can set it on its cover, which has some grooves in it to help make sure the kickstand doesn’t slide. The device has a solid feel, and a very clean look. Here’s a picture of it’s backside.

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Back view of the ThinkVision, sitting on its cover.

It’s just a bit larger than the Samsung slate from //BUILD, and the slate can drive it quite nicely. They make a good looking pair. (I cut off about 2” from the right side of the ThinkVision when I took the picture below.)

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Slate on the left, ThinkVision on the right.

So, what did it take to get it up and running? Especially on Windows 8 Release Preview?

I set it up on my laptop and my slate. Both are running Windows 8 Release Preview, and the setup was very easy. The “hardest” part was downloading the driver. (It comes with an installation CD for earlier operating systems, but I knew I’d have to download something new.)

Here’s what I did. NOTE: THIS WORKED FOR ME. YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY.

1. I plugged it into the USB port on my laptop.

2. It appeared Device Manager, and device manager knew the device name, but didn’t have a driver for it.

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3. I went to Lenovo.com/support to get the driver, and chose “Use Quick Path.”

4. For product information I put in 1452-DB6, which was on the label of the installation CD. (I tried using the model number from the back of the device itself, but that number wasn’t recognized by the website.)

5. This brought up a page for ThinkVision LT1421 14-inch Wide Flat Panel Monitor. Bingo. I clicked Devices & Software.

6. Lenovo only had drivers through Windows 7 on their site, but I went ahead and downloaded the Win7 driver. When I tried to install it, a dialog box popped up and told me where I could find the driver.

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7. I went to www.displaylink.com/softwareand in the middle of the page I saw a wonderful sight:

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8. I downloaded the beta driver and it installed without a hitch.

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9. The installer didn’t give me a choice of where to put the driver. I poked around in Windows Explorer for a couple of minutes, but didn’t find it anywhere. So I looked again in Device Manager, and DM had found the driver, and placed the entry under the USB Display Adapters category. Nice.

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10. After I installed the driver on my slate, I glanced over and saw the ThinkVision was already working. I didn’t have to do anything else! (On my laptop I had to reboot.)

The slate only has one USB slot, not counting the USB slot on the base unit. I use a cheap USB hub to connect my headphones, keyboard & mouse, etc, to the slate. (I don’t bother using the one on the base unit. Cool thing is, even though the ThinkVision comes with a 1-to-2-USB plug extender, I was able to just plug in one of the USB plugs into the hub, and it worked just fine. Very nice.

And it even works great as a third monitor when connected to my laptop at home. I’m now at least 3x more productive than normal.

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Three is definitely not a crowd.

This is going to be very handy. 🙂

–bliz (@SnowstormLife)

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