Bartels Media’s MaxiVista Virtual Graphics Adapter

Bartels Media’s MaxiVista Virtual Graphics Adapter

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Get a two-monitor display for the price of a meal – we forgoe our haute cuisine to look at the bigger picture…

Information
Product: MaxiVista
Manufacturer: Bartels Media
Price: $39.95
Web: MaxiVista

“You can’t have too many monitors”, as the janitor might have said in an old Hollies song, Carrie Ann. That’s never more true than when you’re working with music applications. The solution is to add another monitor, of course, but then you need another graphics card. But what if you have a laptop or second PC? Could you press that into service?

MaxiVista puts a virtual graphics adapter on your computer which makes your PC think another monitor is connected to itWith MaxiVista you can! This ingenious piece of software pretends to be a graphics adapter. It fools Windows into thinking there is another display installed on your system, enabling Windows’ multi-monitor capabilities and allowing you to extend your desktop across two monitors just as if you had a multi-monitor graphics card. This extra screen is transmitted to a second PC via a network connection.

MaxiVista was developed with laptops in mind although other scenarios suggest themselves, too. As users know, laptops don’t have a video input but with MaxiVista you can put the laptop alongside your main PC for double-screen operation. If you already have two PCs close together, this is a quick and easy way to double your screen real-estate. And if you have an old PC and monitor gathering dust, you could press them into service although you would need to create a network connection first.

Windows XP makes networking very easy (well, as easy as networking can be) and the typical Ethernet LAN (Local Area Network) can be set up on two machines with a simple crossover cable which you can buy for a few pounds. PCs can also be networked via FireWire, USB, and a wireless LAN on a laptop will work, too. Many laptops are already kitted out for this.

The viewer and the viewed

IAll MaxiVista settings are accessed from its icon on the Taskbar.nstallation is easy but read the instructions carefully. The installer creates a Server program on the main PC. It also creates a Viewer program which it puts on the desktop and which must be copied to the second PC. The Server software ‘serves’ the screen data via the network to the Viewer program. When they’re both up and running you can extend your desktop onto the second monitor.

The secondary display has three modes. The default is Full-screen mode where the display matches the Viewer application’s resolution. In Windows mode, the display appears in a window which you can move around the screen. This allows you to see some of the second PC’s native content, too, letting you keep an eye on anything which it’s running. The third mode is Fit-to-screen which magnifies the images placed on it.

Flippin’ heck!
MaxiVista can flip or rotate the secondary display by 180 degrees, effectively turning it upside down. However, some screen resolutions such as 1200 x 1600 in the Display Properties dialog produce a Portrait display and in conjunction with the 180 degree rotation you can effect 90, 180 and 270 rotations.

The program supports screen resolutions up to 3200 x 1600 pixels which may be more than some monitors can handle, and you can change resolutions on the fly. It can flip the second display through 90, 180 or 270 degrees. Although 180 may have been designed with Australians in mind, 90 is useful for displays of long screens such as Reason creates, or for viewing a long track list. To use this you simply stand the laptop on its side – excellent! – although perhaps of limited use with traditional monitors.

The developer claims very low CPU usage, up to 5 percent, and indeed it is very low although if you’re already maxing out your CPU with effects and virtual synths you may not want any more load. The software does on-the-fly compression and we could see some judder when dragging a window on the second display although we were using a rather slow PC. However, most applications don’t require you to do this and we had good results using two monitors with a sequencer and other music software.

The freedom you feel when you using a second monitor is liberating and tangible. If you have a laptop then MaxiVista is an absolute essential add-on, and if you have two PCs closely placed it will be a very tempting buy.

Pros
Easy to use
Utilise an existing computer
Get more screen real-estate!

Cons
Graphics response
You need some sort of network
You need a spare PC

Summary
MaxiVista lets you use your laptop’s display with your main PC – never has a dual monitor set-up been so cheap!

8/10

Minimum system requirements
Primary PC: PC running Windows 2000/20003/XP, 3Mb HD space
Secondary PC: PC running Windows 98/Me/NT4/2000/2003/XP
Network connection between them

Features
Virtual VGA driver
Supports up to 3200×1600 resolution
Supports 2000/XP multi-monitor technology
Screen rotation function
Full Screen and Fit To Screen modes