The Gadget: The ViDock Gfx, a box with an ATI 2600XT inside that allows you to add two DVI displays to your ExpressCard Laptop (e.g. MacBook Pro). It doesn’t affect your current display setup, which might already have an external monitor being driven by the on-board DVI port, which means you can have a total of three external displays plus your MacBook Pro’s going at the same time. Mac and Windows versions are available in both 128MB and 256MB flavours, running at up to 2560×1600 resolution.
The Price: Still TBD
The Verdict: Multitasking bliss. We were able to add two 19-inch, 1280×1024 monitors to our 15-inch MacBook Pro without breaking a sweat. The two extra monitors (we were already running a 30-inch Dell off the internal DVI port) had very little slowdown while being powered through our ExpressCard port, and handled HD video like the Watchmen trailer without any signs of tears or imminent exploding.
What we did notice was that the unit was LOUD. In our pre-production unit, the fan ran started quietly on boot, but ramped up to 100% after a minute or two. It was loud enough to give us AND our unborn children a migraine. The people at Villagetronic said their release units would be softer, but note that the ATI 2600XT throws out a lot of heat. To us this means that you probably shouldn’t expect this to be too much softer. Just something to watch out for if you need to use this in a quiet production environment. The other annoyance we’ve found is that the ExpressCard connection can’t be hot-plugged on OS X, so you have to shut down your machine every time you want to swap in or out of the multi-monitor setup or else you’ll get that curtain of death. Villagetronic tells us that it’s a bug that Apple will fix in the future.
Is this great for multitasking? Oh sweet jeebus yes. You can have all your applications open at the same time, spread eagled across your four displays like Stalin planning to push the Nazis back into Germany (apologies for that undoubtedly historically inaccurate statement). Is it worth the as-of-yet-undetermined cost? Hard to say. Something like this won’t be cheap, but if you’re like us and value every pixel of your screen as if it’s the last chopper out of Saigon (sorry again!), you’ll look long and hard at the ViDock Gfx. [Villagetronic]