Friday, October 09, 2009

The DisplayLink USB video adapter just works

The other day I wrote a post about the hell of Apple video adapters. Out of the blue I received an email telling me about DisplayLink. The company offered to send me a review unit to see if it would help with my problem.

I accepted and received one a few days later. Here it is.

There are three components: a standard USB to mini-USB cable. The DisplayLink box (top right) itself which has two connectors: mini-USB on one side and a DVI connector on the other. It also comes with a DVI to VGA converter (top left).

The adapter works by simply plugging it into the USB port of a computer. After installing the appropriate driver (Windows or Mac OS X) you can then connect a display or projector to the adapter and it appears as if it were directly connected to your machine.

For example, I connected the adapter to a MacBook in our conference room which is normally connected directly to our Epson projector. Instead I attached the connector to the DisplayLink. The Epson appeared in the list of displays detected by Mac OS X (the only poor part of the experience was downloading the correct driver which was OS version specific).

I then tried it on a MacPro and on a MacBook Air. Worked like a charm. Then I switched to a laptop with Windows Vista installed. Once again, it worked perfectly. The video was crisp and smooth.

I'm not a gamer so I didn't try it with fast moving graphics (although I did watch both YouTube and iPlayer video streaming video).

The DisplayLink adapter is available through a variety of OEMs, you can't get it directly from the manufacturer so I can't tell you the cost of the model I was using. But, as an example, the Diamond BVU195 HD USB Display Adapter costs about $80.

The only problems I see with it are: it got very hot with extended operation, and it only partially solves my problem. Now I have to ensure that all the machines that I might connect to the projector have the right software on them. But, at least, I don't have to get into trouble when someone steals the one Apple video adapter I need.

Overall, for our needs (office applications) the adapter is a nice solution. We'll probably be sticking with it.

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