Kensington Dual Monitor Adapter review
We’re still waiting for DisplayLink technology to hit the mainstream, but if any product will push it to the forefront of buyers’ minds it’s this. For just £54 exc VAT, the Kensington Dual Monitor Adapter will allow you to add a second screen to your computer via a USB connection rather than D-SUB or DVI. Theoretically, you could even buy six of the adapters and run six additional screens – but we suspect that will be overkill.
Installation on our test system running Windows Vista was a little more fiddly than we’d like. We’d recommend following the instructions in the quick-start guide to the letter (in particular, don’t plug in the adapter before installing the software), and note that you’ll have to restart Windows before it will work.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a DVI output on your PC or laptop then you can plug this straight into the compact adapter – it’s roughly the same size as a Fry’s Turkish Delight bar – but if not, Kensington includes a VGA-to-DVI adapter in the box.
Unlike the more expensive Village Tronic ViBook, there’s no convenient VESA cradle so you’ll have to leave the Kensington device on your desk, but note that it’s powered over the USB connection so at least you don’t need to trail an extra wire to your power supply.
With the adapter connected, you should find that when your system reboots you’ll magically have a new screen. You’ll also see a tiny icon sitting in your taskbar which lets you conveniently switch resolutions and change the virtual position of the extended desktop – to the left, right, top or bottom of your main screen.
Unlike the ViBook, though, it doesn’t integrate extra buttons into Windows applications, so you can’t just press a button and watch the active application jump to a different screen ??” you’ll have to drag it there manually.
There are other limitations too. Where the ViBook supported resolutions of up to 1,680 x 1,050 or 1,600 x 1,200, the Kensington is limited to 1,440 x 900 or 1,280 x 1,024. It also needs a fairly powerful CPU to work well: Kensington recommends at least a 1.2GHz dual-core CPU.
We opted for a 1.4GHz dual-core system and found it worked very smoothly. It can even cope with a streamed video over BBC iPlayer, with only the occasional judder. Certainly, there’s none of the dreaded cursor lag.
If you can afford the ViBook we’d still recommend it over the Kensington: it’s more flexible and neater. But with the Kensington costing almost half the price, it’s certainly a good choice if you need to add more screens to your system on a tight budget.