DisplayLink technology has existed for a while, and started appearing in more devices in 2008. It sounds like a very visualist-friendly concept – add extra monitors via USB – yet I haven’t seen it in action nor heard from any VJs using this hardware.


The DisplayLink site proudly displays seemingly daisy-chained monitors, and touts the energy efficiency of not using extra graphics cards to add more displays.

As to performance, DisplayLink is a software accelerated solution, compressing and sending the video data over USB. Various reviews have noted the performance hits this causes, and the DisplayLink Mac driver (released December 2008) page notes that the driver doesn’t support 3D acceleration. That aside, it could be useful for laptop performance or other compact projects where additional graphics cards won’t fit.

Amazon sports a selection of devices from around US$60, and for internationalists, DealExtreme has some too.

Has anyone tried DisplayLink? Is it usable for projection or live video, or should we stick with Matrox’s GXMs (a.k.a. DualHead2Go and TripleHead2Go)?

  • Polite

    If silence was golden, I think you'd be rich.

    Realistically, without having actually used the technology myself, i can't imagine it being very useful, especially for us that are already hitting our usb bandwidth pretty hard with audio interfaces, external controllers, etc.

    And besides, alot of laptop providers can provide additional video out via docking stations, if you are that keen to have more than the lcd + 1 that most laptops already provide.

    Admittedly, if someone is getting pleasant results from this I would be very interested.

  • I've seen some expensive tiny USB monitors with smaller resolution for displaying widgets and such., like http://ces.cnet.com/8301-19167_1-10135942-100.htm

    Lack of vid acceleration hurts visualists specifically.

    On some systems (I know my Mac Pro makes it easy), you can install 2 graphics cards, each with 2 DVI ports, and connect a total of 4 monitors. (I haven't tried more than that.)

  • What Torley said. From my understanding, this is going to be suboptimal for VJs. This compresses the data via your GPU, doing readback off of it and then sending that compressed image to your display over USB.

    It sounds like a bad idea for anything requiring decent perf.

  • @Torely

    Going by your icon, might you be Torely of SL fame?

    We met a few times maybe two, three years back. My name was 'Otis Pertwee'- I created that syncable loop player that I demonstrated for you. The red 'loopjammer' thing.

    Small 'net!

  • amounra

    I purchased a box for an inexpensive hackintosh that I built due to a lack of extra PCI or AGP slots to install a video card for a second monitor. Its usable for display purposes, but is considerably more sluggish than anything else I've ever used. I knew what I was getting into. I can't imagine it would be acceptable to anyone for video use. Its my understanding the technology is considerably better on the PC side, and that we have Apple to thank for this. Supposedly, with their help, we'll see something beyond a beta driver for the mac.

  • ps. All apologies for butchering your name up there. Duhhh.

  • i have tried a usb link. its rubbish.
    at the moment i work with mac pro with a matrox triplehead2go. its works fine. 😉

  • Prism

    Something to add. Looks like a great solution if the performance can keep up.