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EVGA UV16 Plus USB-to-DVI adapter (and Others)
(Used for 2nd monitor w/Mac Mini via Displaylink driver)

Posted: Oct. 13, 2008
Updated: Oct 15, 2008 (other alternative solutions)
(Updated Oct. 17th, 2008 for link to Displaylink non-beta Mac driver page)
Updated Oct 21, 2008 (notes on v1.0 non-beta drivers)
Updated Dec. 3rd, 2008 (notes on v1.1 displaylink driver)
Updated Aug 21st, 2009 (notes on beta 1.5 driver)


(Note: in May 2009 sponsor OWC started selling a USB to DVI/HDMI/VGA adapter also.)

DisplayLink Driver Updates: (8/21/2009) http://www.displaylink.com's Mac downloads page has a 1.5 -beta- DisplayLink USB Graphics Driver that has 32bit Snow Leopard support as well as (unknown) "improvements" for current OS X releases:

"We have a beta driver available to support the upcoming release of Apple's new operating system, Snow Leopard. This release also brings improvements to existing supported versions of Mac OS X"

There's also a note that "this driver is not compatible with 64-bit Snow Leopard. We are currently focusing on 32 bit development, and will aim to release a 64-bit compatible driver later in the year."
(earlier driver notes)
On Dec. 2nd, 2008 I spotted a DisplayLink USB Graphics Macintosh Driver 1.1 (15568). The driver v1.1 release notes mention Improved 2D/Video Performance, increased Stability, bug fixes and also has a list of limitations (no PPC mac support) and remaining "issues". Original reports below used earlier versions of this driver - but see Paul's Dec 3rd, 2008 post for his comments on v1.1.



I've been using the EVGA UV16 Plus USB-to-DVI adapter for about a week now, to successfully drive a second monitor on my Mac Mini. I use the Displaylink Mac beta driver (latest update Sept. 5 2008) at: www.displaylink.com/mac_beta_drivers.html.
(NOTE: Beta URL page removed -now redirects to the non-beta (v1.0) mac drivers page at http://www.displaylink.com/mac_downloads.html. See Paul's updated notes on v1.0 drivers below this original report that used the beta driver.-Mike)

There are various vendors who sell USB-to-DVI adapters using Displaylink's chipset, including IODATA and Kensington. The EVGA was the cheapest at $59 after rebate from Newegg (even cheaper this week from Fry's). These adapters have DVI-I, meaning they carry both a digital and analog signal. So I use it with the included DVI-VGA adapter with my old Viewsonic PF790 20" CRT.

The first unit I got was defective. Wiggling the VGA adapter would cause it to cut in and out. And it would overheat after about 5 minutes, requiring one to unplug and replug the USB cable. I RMAed it back to Newegg. The new one seems OK so Far. I'm using a heftier USB2-to-mini USB2 cable (the one that came with my digital camera) than the one provided with the unit (a real thin, roll-up cable). But the supplied cable is probably OK.

Pros: (notes from Beta drivers - see below for later driver notes)
Viable true second monitor solution for Mac Mini. (FYI: see below for other options.-Mike)
Much faster than VNC.
Supports up to 1600 x 1200 resolution (lower for the UV12 model, I suggest you stick with the UV16).

Cons:
1. Still a little touchy. Anything needing OpenGL 3D acceleration can cause the monitor to blank out. You have to unplug/replug the USB cable to get the synch back.

2. Only supports 60Hz refresh at any resolution higher than 800 x 600. The Displaylink support guy said this shouldn't be so. The sensing of my Viewsonic is a little intermittent (sometimes senses the model and sometimes goes to generic display). But even when it senses it, the higher refresh rates are grayed out for resolutions above 800x600. It might be a peculiarity with sensing my Viewsonic monitor. I haven't had time to try others.

3. Even 2D QT videos cause a momentary black before the video starts playing.

4. Occasional wake from sleep problems (unplug/replug).

5. Some applications won't run; some images won't show, due to the OpenGL issues I guess. Examples: Toast above Toast 7 will not run using the EVGA adapter nor under VNC for that matter (Toast 7 runs). The EyeTV Program or Stream Info won't show up as an overlay on the video.

The driver is beta, and Displaylink has been trying real hard with minimal or no cooperation from Apple. There is a form on the website to put in your two cents worth to Apple.

I use the Displaylink/Viewsonic as my primary monitor and my HDTV connected directly to the Mac Mini as my secondary monitor. So I can control everything on the normal computer monitor where menus are easier to see, and send full screen video from QT or EyeTV3 to the HDTV.

Just for kicks, I tried connecting the EVGA adapter to the HDTV (with DVI-to-HDMI cable). It worked. It sensed the Toshiba HDTV. It supported 1280x720p at 60Hz (The Toshiba's 1920x1080 is beyond the EVGA's specs). Playing HD video was a little taxing for it; The EVGA uses video compression to send video across the USB connection, and the adapter decompresses it on the DVI side. I hope this review is useful to the XLR8YourMac community.
-Paul

Update/Notes on Displaylink 1.0 (non-beta) drivers: (added Oct. 20, 2008)

Displaylink Ver 1.0 followup
Thanks for the heads up on version 1.0 drivers. (http://www.displaylink.com/mac_downloads.html) I've been trying it for about a week now with the EVGA UV 16 Plus on the Mac Mini Core 2 Duo.

Pros:
1. More stable in some ways (e.g., screen doesn't flash black momentarily when starting a QT video; fewer disconnects (black screen until unplug/replug)).

2. Coverflow works better.

Cons: (including a big one):
1. Every time the display goes to sleep, waking it up results in a stuck mouse cursor. You have to unplug/plug the EVGA USB cable to unstick the mouse. I haven't tried a bluetooth mouse. It probably has something to do with USB.

2. Still doesn not properly sense the capabilities of my Viewsonic PF790 monitor, offering only 60Hz refresh above 800x600. Sensing of the PF790 model is intermittent. When it senses a generic display, it offers up a 1280x720 at 50 Hz, which is very flickery when beating against the ambient 60 Hz.

3. Still too slow for smooth video playback. And DVD player and certain other apps won't run with a displaylink device as the sole monitor.

Con #1 is noted on their "issues" list. But it didn't happen every single time with the beta. In fact it was pretty rare.

Also, recently the menu bar turned a funny lavendar color after a reboot. But I had installed a new canon MFC4370dn printer driver at the same time, so I don't know for sure that it is a glitch with the Displaylink device.
(he later wrote)
The adapter started giving me a black screen every few minutes, requiring me to unplug/plug the USB cable. To get out of this mode, I'd have to reboot, and then maybe an hour later, it would start doing this again.
I'm afraid I will give up on the EVGA UV16 Plus with Displaylink driver until a new driver version comes along. It is still a little too flakey for prime time, at least in my setup. If anyone has any contrary experience, I'd be interested to know. I might have another defective unit. Thanks.
-Paul

Update/Notes on Displaylink v1.1 Driver: (added Dec 3, 2008)

"Hi, Mike. So far, so good. The every-few-minutes instability (unplug/replug displayLink EVGA UV16+ device when video disappears) seems to be gone. I've been testing it for about an hour now. The weird colors are now gone with the new driver installed. Quicktime playback is noticeably smoother. I've been playing back a 960x540 H.264 (1/2 scaled HDTV recording) PBS Van Morrison concert without a hitch. This is all on a 2GHz Intel Mac Mini driving the display at 1280x1024, 60Hz. The adapter seems to be running a tad cooler. I haven't let the display go to sleep yet to see if it wakes up OK.

Remaining issues (same as with 1.0 driver):
- Sensing of Viewsonic PF790 VGA CRT monitor still intermittent (Half the time senses a generic display).
- Whether properly sensed or not, resolutions above 800x600 are only available at 50 or 60Hz.
But overall, a great improvement. It seems to be finally useable.
(But about an hour later he wrote)
I might have spoken too soon. After a couple of hours, mild instability returned. Not as often as with 1.0. But seems to get worse as time passes.
- Paul"

The driver v1.1 release notes also has a list of remaining key issues.


Other Options for Dual Displays on a Mini:
(FYI: Another option (but much more expensive) is the Matrox DualHead2Go. The Feb. 15th 2007 news page had a Mini user's report on Matrox DualHead2Go. They now have Digital versions and TripleHead2Go models.-Mike)

Another Mini owner replied to this post:

(added 10/14/2008, updated 10/15/2008)
Subject: MacMini dual monitors
I have been using the Tritton See2Extreme (USB 2.0 DVI Video Adapter) with my Mac Mini for a while now. I have the Mini and a MDD G4 Dual 1.25GHz set up with an Amconn KVM814MM dual monitor KVM switch.

I wouldn't say it's flawless, sometimes it has to "redetect" what resolution it is supposed to be using. It is using a Beta driver from Tritton, but it does work. I had used others with similar drivers in fact, but with the KVM switch, this one works the best. (Amconn seems to have gone MIA however).

Oh, a bit more about it. The Mini and G4 are connected via the KVM to dual Acer AL2016W 20" widescreen displays mounted on the Neo-Flex stand by Ergotron (it is height adjustable, which is why I went with Ergotron instead of Go-Video). They are currently set to 1600 x 1024 resolution, but can go much higher and the See2Extreme supports it.

And mine is not the only one. I have a former boss set up with a Mac Mini and an HP Tower connected via KVM to dual Haanspree 19" monitors too.
And the Tritton box is about $120 retail.
The EVGA is NOT the only solution for Mac Minis out there.
(He later wrote with notes about the Matrox DualHead2Go)
We used one in early '07. (original analog display model) But there were issues with spanning desktop, etc. I started reading up more on it even after we got it and decided that for the price, I could do better with the USB to DVI adapters. About half the price.

Don't get me wrong, it performs, but it was a bit of overkill and it required a separate power supply. That is a drawback to me personally. I only have so many plug spaces available near the old beast that is my current machine.

Being that we're a hybrid shop of Macs and PCs, we are usually evaluating things that will work multiplatform. Our next device we're testing is the CineMassive. It's on order. It drives multiple screens from a box that connects via the PCI Express or PCMCIA slots (obviously for laptops).
I'll let you know how that goes.
-John G."

Please do, and thanks.





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