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Never had an external monitor on a laptop before, so I'm exploring uncharted waters here.

What should one keep in mind when choosing an external monitor for a laptop? I have a HP 6715s laptop, with a standard VGA output connector. The resolution of the laptop display is 1280x800, powered by an integrated graphics card.

My wish is to buy a bigger monitor, with a bigger resolution (thinking about 1920x...) to use it in (not sure about the correct term here) "dual mode" (so I have laptop monitor and an external one as a working space).

Are these demands feasible? Is there something I should know when choosing a model, or is it straightforward (choose, buy, bring home, plug in, work)? Problems with graphics card maybe?

Will be mostly used for 2D CAD drafting work.

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3 Answers 3

I found this specification at hp.com for the 6715s VGA port:

VGA port supports resolutions up to 2048 x 1536 at 75 Hz, and lower resolutions at up to 100 Hz

So you should be good to go with a 1920x1200 monitor running with an extended desktop spanning both monitors.

Just plug it in, and assuming you're running Windows, go to Display Properties to enable the extended desktop. You'll also be able to set where the external monitor sits relative to the laptop display: left, right, above, below.

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2048x1536 @ 75Hz on a notebook? Dang! Yeah I would think it can do desktop extension with independent resolutions based just on that. :) –  Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Mar 4 '11 at 3:38
    
@techie007 - Sorry, I don't understand quite what you mean. Is that good or bad? –  Rook Mar 4 '11 at 11:38
    
thanks for the effort to research this. –  Rook Mar 4 '11 at 11:39
    
@Rook - Yes it's good, as it has more ability than your monitor will be able to use. Plus, 75-100Hz refresh at high resolutions like that is impressive, especially for integrated notebook video. To me anyway. :) –  Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Mar 5 '11 at 6:29
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Generally you can make a decision based on the same factors influencing a monitor for a normal PC - picture quality and so on. As long as the monitor is VGA-compatible you should have no trouble with plug and play.

You'll want to make sure that your graphics card and drivers are capable of rendering at the resolution you want the large monitor to have. More difficult to determine is whether it'll be capable of performing fast enough to meet your requirements with dual monitors. If you have a relatively modern laptop - and hopefully some dedicated video memory - you shouldn't have any problems.

Windows 7 in conjunction with Ati or Nvidia drivers has good support for various configurations of dual monitors. GNOME under Linux also has easy tools to handle this.

You should also consider your desk configuration - you may or may not want a monitor that's raised significantly above the spot where it sits on the desk or has an adjustable height, depending on your setup.

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It's pretty straight forward... It comes down to what you values. If you are a gamer you want High contrast ration and a high refresh rate. if you are looking at office documents that won’t matter so much. you can get in the Nitti gritty details of contrast ratio ( you want something higher than 10,000:1(dynamic) ) power consumption, response time Brightness. Most monitors in the same relative price range a fairly equal. Most importantly find a monitor that will max out your video cards Maximum resolution to give you the most usable real state.

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Resolution and refresh rate are more important to me than anything else (as long as it can display 16 colors, it's fine ;) since I usually stare at it for 10 h/day. –  Rook Mar 4 '11 at 11:56
    
Screen space is what I'm missing, and I cannot buy (due to some job related constraints - have some acquisition hardware built in) a full desktop machine; so I'm trying to find a way to "expand" this one. –  Rook Mar 4 '11 at 11:59
    
Go for it that is what I do I have a 23" monitor with my laptop and I can’t think of not having it. If you really want to go big you can think about buying a Matrox DualHead2Go I have been wanting one for a while now just waiting for the right time to buy (when I feel right enough). Though i am not sure how that will factor in with the resolution that gordoco spoke of. –  jamason1983 Mar 4 '11 at 12:04
    
Hmm, interesting. If I got it right, that little thing enables you to connect (let's say) two monitors at higher resolution that it would've otherwise been possible. (Am I even close in my understanding?) ... // Apart from that, I'm aiming for a 22" monitor this time, nothing special, just something that will enable to work in peace without all the toolbars and stuff cluttering my workspace. Btw, you seem to know about this stuff. Tell me, how do those systems which have 4 or 6 monitors put it all together? –  Rook Mar 4 '11 at 15:27
    
The way the device works is it acts like a really wide monitor with a resolution like 1080x2200 Something at least that is what windows sees and the hardware box it splits the image off across the two monitors. You are still always constrained by what your video card can handle. The setups with 3+ monitors work because special video cards where purchased to allow for that. So it is native functionality to the video card. The Matrox DualHead2Go is nice but requires some research but I would ultimately recommend just going with a good 23” monitor. –  jamason1983 Mar 4 '11 at 18:26
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