During our talks with Asus today, we saw some of the company's new display products - the most notable of which used Wireless DisplayLink technology to connect to your machine. The display had a 22in diagonal screen and Asus has done nothing special with the TN+Film panel it's based on - it uses the same 1,680 x 1,050 native resolution, and a typical grey-to-grey response time of 5ms.
Brightness and contrast ratios were rated at 300cd/m² and 3,000:1 respectively, while connectivity options were for either wired or wireless USB and D-Sub. Sadly, we were told that there was something wrong with the wireless antenna, which prevented the demo from working properly - this is still in the very early stages of development, though, so it's entirely understandable.
On a more positive note, Asus showed us four similarly-specced displays in a daisy chain connected to just one USB 2.0 port on the host notebook. Each of the displays had a 22in diagonal and a 1,680 x 1,050 native resolution, meaning the total desktop resolution with all four displays connected was 6,720 x 1,050, which is sure to please anyone looking for masses of desktop real estate.
Asus showed applications moving across the four displays and it seemed to be fairly smooth - but it wasn't just that, that we were interested in. We wanted to know how it'd handle motion scenes, like High-Definition video playback or games. Unfortunately, the company said that the technology is currently not really fast enough for very-high motion scenes. After all, a single USB 2.0 link has a maximum bandwidth of 480Mbit/sec, compared to the 3.96Gbit/sec available to DVI.
The displays manage to achieve perceived smoothness when moving things around by compressing the image before it's sent over the USB bus to the display. It's then decompressed once it reaches the display - this introduces a small amount of lab, but it's perfectly acceptable for most general productivity scenarios.
Considering the lack of DVI connectivity, it's as if the target market isn't for both desktops and notebooks at the moment; instead, it introduces multi-display capabilities to notebook users because notebooks typically have just one analogue or digital display output. When we inquired about the lack of DVI, Asus' display product manager explained to us that the USB connection is using the digital input on the panel and said that it's something Asus wants to change in later revisions of the screen before reminding me that this is a first-generation product. Where we see advantages to this type of display is being able to leave it connected to your desktop machine via DVI and then being able to connect several displays to your notebook using a USB daisy chain.