I did some searching recently and located some inexpensive devices designed to add a second monitor to your laptop. I’m quite happy with the StarTech USB VGA External Dual or Multi Monitor Video Adapter.
Typically I move the task manager, OneNote and the VBA editor window to the right hand screen. I use OneNote for all my short term notes on what I’m doing.
Note that I’ve been using dual monitors starting in about 2000 for programming and quite liked it. However when I dropped the one client I moved the tower system that had a Matrox dual VGA video card home. Then as I was visiting other clients for short periods of time I didn’t feel like setting up the tower system instead relying on my laptop.
In the past these devices were upwards of $500 so I didn’t feel like spending that much money. Matrox have some nice looking cards but they state that it only works on certain graphics adapters. Likely most of them but that seems slightly limiting.
So I purchased a StarTech USB VGA External Dual or Multi Monitor Video Adapter I’ve been using it at a client along with the DVI output on the laptop. While it has its relatively minor quirks it works quite nicely. That particular device is ten or twenty dollars more expensive than the cheapest version but it supports more video resolutions so I don’t mind spending the extra money.
Clearly Windows is smart enough to move the apps back to the main monitor once you disconnect the multiple monitors.
The senior managers at a client started using dual monitors at the suggestion of Jim my friend and the IT manager. They liked them so much, and the price of LCD monitors is so low, that just about every office person is now using dual 22” LCD monitors. With the exception of a few people such as the receptionist or others who don’t spend much time in email or Excel.
It is noticeably slower on the screen refreshes when moving applications around. Well, I don’t do that often so no big deal. I’m sure the device would such big time at gaming. But not a problem for me.
I use a toolbar on the left hand side of my desktop to launch my favourite 20 or 30 applications. Similar to Quick Launch but it’s on the left hand side. After disconnecting this device the LHS (Left Hand Side) Launch toolbar only displays a shadow. Logging off and on redisplays it properly so that’s relatively painless. However this problem hasn’t happened lately so I don’t know what I’ve done to solve this.
According to the product page you can have up to five of these devices hooked up simultaneously. Well,that’s a bit much even for me. However there might be times I want a third monitor. OTOH what with inexpensive 24" LCD monitors now … <shrug>
The device driver supports rotation. So I may just see if I can easily rotate the right hand monitor so I can view more code.