LG is one of the manufacturers experimenting with computer monitors connected via USB 2.0 and they have teamed up with DisplayLink to launch their first one, the L206WU, in the USA:
The new FlatronWide L206WU is a 20-inch monitor from LG, a global leader in high-performance liquid crystal display (LCD) technology, that is certified for Windows Vista and feature DisplayLink’s DL-160 chip, enabling high-performance HD graphics over a USB 2.0 link. The display offers wide-screen resolution (1680×1050) for full-screen display of rich graphics and for playback of widescreen video.
With a multi-port USB hub built into the display, up to three LG FlatronWide monitors can be daisy chain connected to a PC while consuming only one USB 2.0 port on the computer. Future improvements will enable up to six monitors to be connected to a single PC over USB 2.0.
The DisplayLink DL-160 network display chip powers high-quality, fully interactive 32-bit true-color graphics with real-time video playback across a USB link. DisplayLink is the first company to enable the 3D capabilities of the Windows Vista Aero interface on multiple USB-connected displays with an unparalleled user experience.
It’s too soon for real reviews or even prices, but if you’re like me, you’re wondering how this works. Here’s the trick:
The complete DisplayLink solution is comprised of Virtual Graphics Card (VGC) software that runs on a Windows host PC, and a Hardware Rendering Engine (HRE) inside the DL-120 or DL-160 chip at the display end. The VGC software processes a stream of display information using the company’s proprietary adaptive graphics protocol and transmits it over a USB 2.0, wireless USB, or Wi-Fi link to the DL-120 or DL-160 chip that reconstructs the image on the display.
Apparently they can shift the bits fast enough on a USB 2.0 connection to not only run one, but also multiple displays. Does it really work? Nicholas Deleon at CrunchGear says yes it works quite well, but don’t expect to play video games. Jason Bovberg at Windows IT Pro saw a selection of DisplayLink gear at WinHEC in May and was impressed with all of it including the monitors:
Another practical application of the DisplayLink solution is home media. It delivers high-quality images, including 32-bit color images and smooth DVD video playback. Interactivity with mouse and keyboard is quick and responsive, and the solution supports monitor resolutions as high as 1600 x 1200 (Ultra eXtended Graphics Array–UXGA) and 1680 x 1050 (Widescreen Super Extended Graphics Array–WSXGA+).
I think this would be ideal for a multiple monitor setup for office or programming work without all the pain of multiple graphics adaptors and hope we get to see more USB connected monitors soon. However, I still have worries about how well a “virtual graphics card” really works when you’re doing something CPU-intensive so I’ll be interested in the reviews when they come out.