I’ve owned a Mac now since late 2008. Soon after I bought it, I discovered how cool multi-monitor support is. Oddly, this discovery didn’t quench more thirst for more screen real estate, it simply made me want more and more. On my MacBook Pro, there is only one monitor output. I would have assumed that was that and there would be no way to add more screens but then I found the Sewell Minideck SW-22857.
This ingenious device allows you to hook up to 5 extra monitors to a computer even as underpowered as a Atom-based netbook. That is a testament to the fact that it doesn’t consume a lot of overhead. On my system which is a 2.53GHz dual core, it seems to only take 1.2-2.2% of one of the CPU’s at idle and it spikes to 2.6% when I’m pushing it with window scrolling, etc. Works for me.
Now personally I would have assumed that a USB-based graphics card would be kind of a gimmick. Surprisingly enough though, I think this adapter will work well enough to be useful. I did try full motion video on it and it sucks. Totally useless and choppy. I would estimate I’m getting 15-20fps on it. To me, this is pretty much unacceptable, YMMV.
I did a lot of research before I bought this device. One thing surprised me. It’s smaller than it looks in the picture. Probably half the size of a standard external 2.5″ drive but a touch thicker. Another thing worth mentioning is that you should just go to the website to get the latest driver. From my understanding, the bundled one doesn’t work too well.
Supposedly this is one of the only USB-VGA/DVI/HDMI adapters that actually works properly with the Mac. I’d believe that. The bummer is that they know it and charge dearly for it. I tried and tried to wait them out but the price never dropped. I could not find this device ANYWHERE legitimately cheaper than $100.
The only problem I could find with the whole setup is that my monitor does not seem to properly sleep with this adapter. The screen goes black but the back light stays on. If I figure out what is going on with this, I’ll post an update.
Update 6/30/2010 – Still haven’t figured out the sleep mode on the screen but I have found that you cannot take a screenshot of anything running on USB-connected screen under Mac OS X