Arcane Hardware Hint

Not too long ago I picked up a Targus ACP50US Universal Docking Port. This nifty contraption makes it easy for me to connect all my gizmos to my laptop when I get home every day. All I have to do is plug in one USB connection and I’ve got my network, speakers, microphone, and through the USB ports my external hard disk, mouse, keyboard, external DVD drive, PDA docking station, and more. What’s really handy is the video port. Using it, as well as the video port already built into the laptop gives me the ability to have three monitors hooked up. (The internal laptop, the laptops external monitor, and the monitor hooked up to the Targus).

I’ve discovered a really interesting quirk regarding the video port in the Targus. It advertises a maximum resolution of 1024×768. Not great considering the resolution of most modern monitors, but I thought it would be useful enough for my e-mail program. I will add the refresh rate is really really jerky. I have to move my mouse slow. Still, for information that is fairly static such as a reference manual or e-mail it is OK.

Not too long ago though I found something odd. I had booted my laptop but neglected to plug in the Targus. So I plugged it in, and was amazed when the Targus’ video came up to a full 1600×1200 resolution! Maybe it’s just some odd quirk in my system, or perhaps the driver in Vista is over-riding the Targus driver. For the record, I have an HP Pavilion dv8000 (the 8195 if I recall the model correctly) laptop running Vista. The external monitor hooked to the Targus is a 20 inch ViewSonic G800. (The other monitor, the one hooked directly to the laptop is also a ViewSonic, a 21 inch G220f.)

Now when I boot my laptop, I wait until I’ve logged into Vista before plugging in the Targus docking port. The video displays flicker then I get my third monitor with 1600×1200 resolution. The refresh rate still stinks, but it’s no worse than it was at 1024×768 but I get a nice big screen. As I said it’s just fine for fairly static info such as electronic books (pdfs or chms), web pages, word documents, database diagrams or other types of data that I’m only reading, not trying to work with intensively.

If you happen to own one of these docking stations, I’m curious to see if anyone else experiences this phenomenon. Next time you power up, wait until after you’ve logged in to see if you get bigger video out of it, then leave a comment here for us all to know!

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