Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dual monitor setup ideas, great price on a useful base monitor stand: Planar 997-5253 at

This week [1st week January 2011], has a pretty good deal on a desktop monitor stand that will get a dual monitor setup working for your desktop. Here is the link that is good for a least a week more. I paid thirty dollars more for the same unit at a while back, this is 'all in' with same shipping options and taking into account that charges CA sales tax where does not. I am amazed at the shipping efficiency that has, I ordered a 2nd one of these from yesterday with their cheapest shipping option, free, and it was delivered via Fedex Home Ground the next afternoon. Clearly your physical location relative to's logistics sites will make a difference, but wow!

I'm a big fan of portrait monitor orientation as you can see by the second picture below. What is nice about the Planar dual monitor stand is that is able to handle monitors up to 24 inches in either landscape, portrait or a combination. The ability for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X to handle multiple monitors and monitors turned 90 degrees [or 270 degrees] has greatly improved over the years. I still find Apple's OS X operating system to handle it the best 'out of the box'.  Much of their advantage is that they control both the hardware and video display drivers. In Windows and Linux you often have to deal with one or more third party video card drivers to get it working. That said, my configurations on Ubuntu Linux 10.02 work really well. I have been using nVidia cards for a while and they works solidly, but do expect to spend more time in the setup phase than you will on OS X.

The Planar 997-5253 stand is really easy to setup and is very stable on your desk. I'm using 21 inch monitors in portrait orientation and there is no way they will tip over. In the past, I've used stands that attached to the sides of desks or into drilled holes. While these are the ultimate in stability, they are more difficult to get a good ergonomic setup.

The price and selection of LCD monitors is wide open now, so you have to shop around for price point, size and display quality. The most important item for the dual monitor setup is to make sure the monitors you buy have the ability to remove their standard base and mount via the industry standard 'VESA 100 mm by 100 mm' or 'VESA 75 mm by 75 mm' third party mounting option. Be careful with some of the lower cost LCD monitors, as they do NOT have this option. Apple's LCD monitors do not have this option either, though people have hacked the Apple monitor mounts to make them work. So for a OS X dual monitor configuration; Mac Mini, Mac Book Pro, or Mac Pro I recommend using non-Apple monitors. You might wonder how you drive multiple monitors on a Mac Book Pro or Mac Mini, if you search, you will find a number of people that have made this work using various configurations of the internal video card and cables. For my configuration on a MacBook Pro, I went with a external USB video card device from . Their latest OS X drivers support display rotation, the video quality on the DisplayLink device that I have not as high a quality as the built in video card of the MacBook Pro, but has been fine for my old eyes and has been running solidly with no memory leaks or crashes. On the Linux machine, where I do most of my work, I use nVidia video cards that have dual monitor support build in. The Apple MacPro has similar video cards available. Having a powerful video card with dual DVI or HDMI monitor support is the ideal machine to run. But I can say that my MacBook Pro configuration, which is really a THREE monitor solution, since the display on the notebook works as well. It is solid and a good setup for email, coding and document review.