A lot has happened since we first saw DisplayLink in action.
HP has followed in Toshiba’s footsteps by producing a docking unit that also supports DisplayLink. Like Toshiba’s DynaDock, the HP unit will connect up to your notebook via USB and will then connect to your monitor via DVI. There’s also a D-SUB output on the HP dock, but the two video ports can’t be used to drive two monitors independently. The HP dock also includes an Ethernet port, headphone and microphone ports, and four port USB hub. USB docks like the DynaDock and the new unit from HP allow consumers to enjoy the ease of a multi-function docking station, but without the proprietary connection method.
There were also two InFocus projectors on show, both of which had DisplayLink hardware built in. This means that any notebook can connect up to these projectors via USB and of course you’re getting a digital connection even if your notebook doesn’t have a digital video output.
There was an interesting demo showing how DisplayLink can also save on power usage. There were two similarly configured PCs on show, but one of them was using DisplayLink to drive two screens while the other was using a traditional graphics card. The result is that the DisplayLink system was drawing far less power, and if you wanted to drive four monitors that gap would widen considerably since only very high-end graphics cards tend to have four ports.
When I first saw DisplayLink in action back in 2007 the technology was only compatible with Windows, although a Mac version was promised. This time around DisplayLink worked fine on Mac OS, as demonstrated with a MacBook Air running three external display from its single USB port. If ever there was a notebook that needed DisplayPort it’s the MacBook Air with its pitiful amount of connection options.
The DisplayLink USB monitor technology also runs fine on notebooks equipped with Hybrid SLi graphics solutions and there was even a beta build of Windows 7 on show, with multiple monitors daisy-chained using DisplayLink. The latest top-end DisplayLink chip (the 195) will now drive displays up to 2,048 x 1,152, which means that we should start seeing 1,920 x 1,200 monitors with USB connectivity soon. Unfortunately support for 2,560 x 1,600 30in screens is still some way off, but it’s definitely on the agenda.