Monday, July 26, 2010

Sewell MiniDeck Review

When it comes to trading you can never have enough visual workspace. Specialist graphic cards make adding multiple monitors easier but these are costly and if you are not interested in tinkering with your system then it's not a particularly attractive option. For many, desktops are going the way of the Dodo so finding a laptop which can support more than one additional monitor can be near impossible and likely uber expensive (is there a laptop which can do this - do dual graphic card laptops have additional DVI slots?). In either case, if you are looking for an easy solution on getting an extra monitor with VGA/DVI support all from a USB port then the Sewell Minideck fits the bill.

Out of the box, you get the Minideck, installation CD, DVI/VGA adapter, a cloth carry case, and USB connector cord (no external power source required).

As a test system I used an 'old' (2 1/2 year) entry model Vostro 1400 with integrated graphics card using Vista hooked to a Dell E228WFP, with the additional monitor a ASUS VH242H. This is not a laptop which I would use regularly (more for travel and checking email) but it's a good example of what the Sewell Minideck can offer.

Installation was straightforward; hook up the MiniDeck to your computer via the USB cord, attach the monitor to the other end using the VGA/DVI adapter if needed, stick in the installation mini-CD and get cracking. Installation has the usual licence agreement to accept:


After installation you will find an icon in your taskbar. As is my usual approach to these things I didn't bother reading the instructions! So my initial response was to right click the desktop to call up the display manager - but the display manager remains that of your graphics card, to actually use the Minideck you need to work from the Minideck icon in your taskbar. All of this information is clearly laid out in the instructions and it was the only time I had to refer to them.


You need to click 'Advanced' to get to the configuration setup; this looks as it does for your regular display setup - the only difference is the presence of the extra monitor supported by the Minideck. The Minideck supports the monitor in its native resolution - I had the Asus hooked up using the DVI adaptor and I got my 1920 x 1080 px resolution:


Drag and Drop the configuration as you see fit; in this case the laptop was dropped into the middle of the setup with a monitor on either side


I had no issue with performance other than a general complaint that the computer I was working off was slow, so not surprisingly - having an extra monitor to load applications into didn't help it run faster, but this wasn't the fault of the Minideck, just the general malaise of my test laptop! I didn't do a video test as most of my work is internet based for running charts and blogging but it was a big bonus having the extra space available.

One of the big advantages for using the Sewell MiniDeck is it allows for VGA or DVI support - especially given my laptop only offered a VGA port (which was hooked up to the Dell monitor). I have scrapped together a short YouTube video showing the setup; unfortunately all I have is a handheld point-n-click camera so the video quality doesn't do the setup justice but you get the picture.


If you are looking to grab one for yourself they retail for just under $100 and can be purchased here.


Dr. Declan Fallon, Senior Market Technician for Zignals.com, offers a range of stock trading strategies for global markets, also available through the latest rich internet application for finance, the Zignals MarketPortal or the Zignals Trading Strategy MarketPlace.

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