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MaxiVista: Enabling An Extra Monitor Over Your Network

MaxiVista: Enabling An Extra Monitor Over Your Network
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For a long time there, it was pretty rare to find a mainstream PC running multiple monitors. A configuration like that would have been considered high-end, desired mostly by professionals in a business environment, like a graphics design studio or financial firm. Back when PCI was the go-to interface for graphics cards, home users looking for a second display had to arm their machine with an additional graphics card.  That was an expensive proposition, and generally more costly than it was worth.

However, times are changing. Today, the PCI Express bus is standard, and the performance of graphics cards has increased significantly. Even the cheapest cards, such as AMD's Radeon HD 3450, available for about $25, offers a second display output ready to take an additional monitor. In addition, CRT monitors have almost exclusively made way for LCDs, making larger screen sizes relatively affordable. Once upon a time, a 19" CRT monitor was an object of envy. Now, few enthusiasts bother to buy an LCD display if it measures fewer than 20".

Higher Productivity

As the financial burden of owning and using several monitors has fallen, such configurations are now much more common in work and home environments. The reason for using one, two, or more monitors varies, though. Amateur photographers, for example, may benefit from a large display surface by dragging the toolbar of the image editing program onto the second monitor. Working with large Excel sheets is easier, as is using two full-size Word documents arranged side by side. The volume of work can easily be increased, since one either has more room to arrange various open program windows, or simply because one can view more information at the same time on the extended surface. No doubt, almost anyone who has worked on a computer with two monitors will be unwilling to give one of them up.

Cost and space requirements

With all the advantages mentioned above, we shouldn't forget that, even though an additional monitor indeed can be purchased for a relatively low cost, it might of course still be beyond the limits of a mainstream user at home. Also, finding the desk space for an extra LCD monitor isn't always easy. Additionally, there are probably quite a few users interested in the idea of a dual-monitor configuration, but not sure to what extent they may benefit from it.

Software solutions?

For those who have both the budget and the space required for a second monitor, but hesitate with the purchase due to worries over potential productivity gains, the MaxiVista software provides an inexpensive way to try such a dual monitor configuration--without having to purchase an extra monitor. The only requirement is that, in addition to your primary computer, you also have to own a notebook or a second desktop PC with its own monitor. These computers must be connected through a network. MaxiVista lets your primary computer use the screen of your secondary computer as a second monitor.

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  • 0 Hide
    kiwimonk , April 21, 2010 6:38 AM
    Very nice! I've been waiting for 64 bit support in MaxiVista for a very long time ;) 
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 21, 2010 7:26 AM
    Quote:
    When further attempting to playback another 720p test file using Windows Media Player we were less successful. Once we moved the window to the virtual monitor we only saw a still image.


    This probably has something to do with Media Player's DRM-related features which block video overlay (can't remember the correct name for this sort of DRM).
  • 3 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , April 21, 2010 9:26 AM
    Interesting but doesn't sound like an ideal solution.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 21, 2010 9:47 AM
    Teamviewer is able to do all this as simply, and in addition is the easiest program to use to help novices on the other side of the globe, transfers files and voice and video, and is free for non-commercial use.

    And I have no commercial interests to love Teamviewer, neither do my old relatives who love it too, because they get their problems solved without any installations on their side.
  • 0 Hide
    brendonmc , April 21, 2010 1:01 PM
    I've experimented with a trial version of this software a number of years ago and concluded exactly the same thing as you have in your article. Its a fantastic idea but is limited to the slow speed of the network interface (remember that PCI-E has a bandwidth of 4GB/s or more) multiplied by the slow speed of software video processing. Forget trying to run an 'Eyefinity'-like setup with a couple of old laptops because gaming isn't gonna happen through this portal. I also found video playback hit and miss too with very strange things happening.
    That said, if you just want to have your inbox, twitter or facebook sitting on that old pentium 3 laptop screen beside your main computer then its great (as long as you are prepared to wait the 10 minutes it would take for windows xp to boot up!).
  • 0 Hide
    igot1forya , April 21, 2010 5:12 PM
    Stardock has had a product called Multiplicity that has done this for years. Also, you can use several spare PC's are monitors at the same time.
    http://www.stardock.com/products/multiplicity/

    Toms should do a side-by-side comparison.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 21, 2010 5:36 PM
    @Igot1forya I think you are misunderstanding the product. MaxiVista doesn't *only* serve as a KVM for non-standard editions but let's you virtually add an extra monitor to your primary desktop, the primary desktops thinks a physical monitor has been added which let's you drag over windows and programs over to them like nany regular monitor except in reality they appear on the monitor of the networked pc.
  • 0 Hide
    ilikegirls , April 21, 2010 11:03 PM
    I just downloaded this program and I'm loving it! not only does it let me have a third screen (win), I found a way to have the second PC work normally with the desktop and everything and still control it. I had fun with this once when I was playing C&C3. I started C&C3 in both PC and played with both on them but with only one mouse lol it was sweet! Love this program!
    still sad its only a trial!
  • 1 Hide
    spoofedpacket , April 22, 2010 12:33 AM
    Wow, this software does not seem entirely useful when considering it is a commercial package.

    You should have used more exciting terminology when talking about the power consumption of running multiple systems. From the looks of video card related articles and posts on here, it is a much bigger deal than actual performance with much colorful and bombastic wording surrounding the issue.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 22, 2010 11:36 AM
    This program is interesting when your 2nd monitor is a laptop. Great for use with Photoshop, Lightroom etc.

    For controlling a remote computer I use the free
    XP software Synergy :
    http://synergy2.sourceforge.net/
    From my WiFi laptop I control HD video display on TV from my desktop player.
  • 1 Hide
    kyle00123 , April 22, 2010 4:19 PM
    There is a free program called Synergy that works great as a software KVM, compatible with Windows, Mac & Linux. I have used it and it might not have a many features as this but it does the job that any KVM switch can do and more.
  • 0 Hide
    miicah , April 22, 2010 11:31 PM
    Damn kyle, if I didn't have to register an account I would have beaten you :p 

    But synergy is great, plus it's cross platform. The sourcforge version of synergy hasn't been updated since '06 but is confirmed to work with XP. Have a look at
    http://code.google.com/p/synergy-plus/
    for an update version.
  • 0 Hide
    Alvin Smith , April 23, 2010 6:57 PM

    This product might work very well in a classroom environment ...

    I can see having an ATOM/Projector presentation client and a hard wired GB-Ethernet connection.

    Also might come in very handy for classroom tech training, if the whole class could mirror the instructor.

    = Alvin =
  • 0 Hide
    Shin-san , April 24, 2010 7:45 PM
    Very handy, but it might be a problem with USB to VGA/DVI/HDMI adapters are out there for about the same cost. If you have an empty PCI Express x16 slot, there's some really good video cards you can use as well for $40-60.
  • 0 Hide
    zybch , May 3, 2010 1:00 PM
    Igot1foryaStardock has had a product called Multiplicity that has done this for years.


    Which is fine if you like your PC infected with the malware they infect ALL of their 'products' with.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 6, 2010 6:00 AM
    If you're using Windows, you might be better off with something like InputDirector or Synergy/Synergy+. It's kind of like having an extra monitor, except your other system is running and you're just controlling it via your primary system's keyboard and mouse. Your programs basically can't interact with each other across computers except in the normal ways, but you do get a shared clipboard.

    As a side benefit, if you (say) play a movie on one computer and play games on the other, neither computer experiences significant slowdown. I sometimes use it at work when I have a spare computer so Outlook can have an entire box to itself :)