|EVGA UV Plus+ UV-19 USB Display Hub|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Accessories|
|Written by Nate Swetland - Edited by Olin Coles|
|Wednesday, 23 June 2010|
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Testing & Results
I tested this system using a Dell Latitude E6510 laptop and a custom built desktop. I tested it in both an office and home setting using the laptop and UV Plus+ 19 alone, as well as the laptop in a Dell docking station with other monitors. Using the desktop, I tested it with two LCD monitors side by side.
Test System 1
Test System 2
I first used the UV Plus+ 19 at work. I typically use two monitors at work, one for my webpages and folder navigation, and the other for email and remote desktops. A third monitor would allow me to keep at least one of those tasks dedicated to its own screen. I chose to put my email on the screen attached to the UV-19. I plugged the USB cable into the device, plugged the other end into my laptop, and within seconds, Windows had popped up saying that it found new hardware, installed it, and was ready to use. I did not have to insert any disks, download any drivers, or even reboot. The UV-19 shows up as a secondary device in the display properties, and can very easily be set to be an extended display in Windows 7. I was also greeted by a new icon in my system tray allowing some minor adjustments to the DisplayLink software. At that point, I moved my Outlook email client window to my third monitor, and it was all set. Within 2 minutes of plugging it in, I was fully up and running with an additional display.
At this point, I was not simply content to wait and see if anything exciting happened in my inbox (it rarely does). So I decided to try and do some simple tasks on the UV-19's display. Almost immediately I could notice a difference between the displays connected to my dock versus connected to the UV-19. Dragging windows, minimizing, maximizing, etc. all had a slight sluggishness to them. It was not untolerable, but it was enough that I could tell. Lowering the resolutoin helped, but there still was a slight difference between the hardware accellerated displays connected to my docking station, and the software-accellerated display of the UV-19. Editing documents, writing emails, browsing files and folders was perfectly acceptable by any standard, but as I said before, there was a slight studdering on the UV-19s display.
Being that I cannot spend my hours surfing Youtube and Hulu at work, I brought my work laptop home to see how the UV-19 would perform when viewing media files or streaming them from the web. Plugging the UV-19 into the ASUS VH242H monitor was the same simple task as it was at work; no surprises there. I immediately browsed to the folder where I store my recorded TV shows and fired up an episode of "Arrested Development" to test out media playback capability. Windowed mode seemed to perform fairly well. The larger the window was, however, the worse it became. The video became choppy and had to skip and drop frames to keep in sync with the audio. Putting the video in fullscreen mode yielded very choppy playback with tearing, jerky, and skippy playback. Just to be sure, I viewed the same video on both the native laptop LCD and the external display separately. Hulu video was no different. Lowering the resolution on the UV-19 display provided marginally better playback, but full screen was still rather unwatchable.
EVGA does have a small trick up their sleeve, though. The DisplayLink software allows an "Optimize for Video" mode. This is meant for the specific purpose of watching full motion, full screen videos on the UV-19. Right-clicking the system tray icon, and checking this option allows the video to play at a much better framerate, but at a cost. The video quality is severely reduced, and obviously pixellated. It is like taking a 800x600 pixel image you find on the web and putting it as your 1920x1200 desktop background, stretched. The video menu overlay that appears when you move your mouse is so blurry, it is practially illegible. The one good thing is that most of this is not noticeable from a large distance. Sitting at your desk 12-18" from your monitor, you will notice all the blurry pixels. but from a distance of 6' or so, it is almost tolerable.
All is not lost, however. Deciding that there must be some mistake, and after talking to my editor, I hooked it up to my desktop to see if having something more than the Intel HD onboard video would help. Long story short, it did. Running the monitor on the UV-19 using my desktop showed noticeable improvement when watching full screen videos, whether they be from my local machine, or from the internet. I raised the resolution up to 1680x1050 and while I did notice a slight bit of lag while moving windows, and once in a while, the video would get a little lagged behind the audio, ultimately, it was a much better experience. Using a lower resolution such as 1024x768 and even up to 1280x1024 allowed for perfectly acceptable video playback. Again, I turned on the "Optimize for Video" mode, and it did much of the same as before, allowed a better framerate, but with a large drop in quality. However, the large drop in quality was not worth the framerate increase for this configuration, so it was immediately disabled. This is where the DisplayLink software seems to really take effect. The DisplayLink technology allows the UV-19 to not only utilize the CPU, but the GPU as well. This is the reason behind the large quality and framrate difference between using the onboard Intel HD graphics and the far more powerful Nvidia GTX260. I must confess, I was very pleasantly surprised.