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I am thinking about buying the new MacBook Air as a primary desktop replacement. One of the things I have on my desktop which I like is two large monitors. Does anyone know whether the new MacBook Air can be used to drive more than one external monitor? Note that I don't want to use the LCD panel on the laptop as one monitor and attach another monitor. I really am looking for two monitors.

Can anyone suggest a trick for doing this native or a third-party device I might be able to purchase which would let me connect two monitors to the third-party device but make them look like a single monitor MacBook Air? [Dori below makes the good point that this may not be great solution because ideally I would want one monitor with a menu bar on the bottom and another monitor which is functional but no menubar.]

Any help appreciated. Thanks.

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Why do you want it to "look like one big monitor"—do you really want the menubar to go across both screens? –  Dori Nov 11 '10 at 2:14
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Dori, That's a good point. I hadn't thought about it until your question but what I want is one monitor with a menubar at the bottom and another monitor where I can put extra applications and windows. –  Micah Siegel Nov 15 '10 at 19:07
    
Do you mean menubar at the bottom, or dock at the bottom? While the latter is easy, I don't think that the former is possible. –  Dori Nov 20 '10 at 5:30
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I know this isn't the point of your question but I would hesitate strongly before considering the Air as a desktop replacement. I don't know your usage patterns, sure, but for years I've used a Pro as a desktop, primarily for portability, and in a few weeks be upgrading to an iMac and repurposing the Pro as a mobile machine, someday to be replaced by an Air. There's something to be said for laptop-grade equipment being somewhat less reliable than desktop-grade. –  NReilingh Dec 31 '10 at 4:06

3 Answers 3

Sidecar is a nice product for windows and they have a Mac version, but seems outdated (and in fact I found the Mac version via Google, not through their product page). You might want to contact them in case they have something not shown there.

In any case, the graphic card (and CPU power) in the MBAir will have a “hard” time driving “two large monitors”.

If you still want to try, this guy over here is using not two, but three displays (plus the macbook’s display) for a total of four. He has a Macbook Pro tho.

He basically tried the Matrox solution and didn’t like it for various reasons he outlines in the post, so he tried the Diamond BVU195 USB-DVI adapter (he brought two).

Go ahead and read his post, he posts his impressions, problems and even links where to buy the things and their prices. You will surely need a couple of USB Hubs for that.

UPDATE: New products are now available for Mac as Matrox Introduces New Mac-Friendly DualHead2Go DP and TripleHead2Go DP Multi-Monitor Adapters.

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Adding one external display is easy. The interesting part is adding more than just the one external display.

I recommend the USB 2.0 to DVI Display Adapter from MonoPrice. It supports DVI, VGA, and HDMI, and costs just under $50.

Another option is the Diamond BVU195 that @Martin mentioned (list: $90).

Two other options are the IOGEAR GUC2020DW6 - USB 2.0 External DVI Video Card and the Diamond BVUMD3 HD USB Display Adapter. They're both around $100 and support DVI and VGA. The latter also includes a 3 port USB hub which I think is a nice addition.

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A sidestepping –and way cheaper– solution is to use ScreenRecycler. For just two screens connect one directly to the computer and then use any really old hardware you have lying around (old mac mini are perfect, but a PC or an old laptop will work equally well) to connect the second one. Then follow the instructions on how to use screen recycler.

The networked screen will be slower than the directly connected one, slower than USB adaptors. Use the "quick one" for games and video and the slow one to park your email/twitter/IM windows.

For the people interested in this who have computers with Firewire ports note that you can use the firewire connection to create a dedicated network with the dumb screen driver. This could improve display performance.

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