Installing Dual Monitors: A Worthwhile Upgrade

Dual monitors

I’m probably a little late to the dual monitor scene. I have a pretty old ATI Radeon x1550 video card in my PC. It does have outputs for VGA and DVI but I’d always connected up with the VGA output even though I bought a Philips 220AW 22” flat panel almost 3 years ago. When I researched running dual monitors with this video card recently, I got mixed messages and wasn’t convinced that I could get dual monitors working under Windows 7.

I did have a spare old HP Pavilion f1703 17” flat panel monitor so I decided to give it a shot. First signs were discouraging though. I downloaded the latest ATI Catalyst driver (9.7) which was supposed to be compatible with this card under Windows 7 but it didn’t seem to install correctly into the ATI Technologies directory under Program Files. But there was no harm in trying to boot up with two monitors connected to the card anyway.

I powered off, connected my main Philips monitor to the video card with a DVI-I cable and the HP Pavilion monitor with the VGA cable, powered up and to my delight, both monitors instantly came to life and I could move my mouse over to the second screen straightaway! The screen resolution on my main Philips monitor had been changed in the process so I right-clicked the desktop and reset the display to the resolution I wanted and noted that ‘Extend these displays’ was already selected in the Multiple displays menu below it.

And that was all there was to it. Without problems, Windows 7 had recognized both monitors and I’m happily working with two screens now, dragging windows from one screen to the other and seeing the obvious benefits. But those of you who have tried dual monitors will know that there isn’t a taskbar on the second screen. Everything is controlled from the taskbar on the main screen. However, in my RSS reader, I had read of an open source program, Dual Monitor Taskbar which, when installed on your PC, inserts a taskbar on the second display and I thought that would be useful. I downloaded and installed it without a hitch and it works perfectly.

If you haven’t tried dual monitors, I can really recommend it as a worthwhile upgrade to your setup. In fact, it’s a bit like broadband versus dial-up – once you’ve experienced it, you won’t go back!

Image credit: XiXiDu

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