8 Replies Latest reply: Aug 28, 2009 5:44 PM by Ben Low
Ben Low Level 1 Level 1 (45 points)
Can I add additional monitors to an iMac, as I do with a Tower?

I'm trying to set up a modest FCP Studio workstation for a friend, using a new iMac. I'd like her to have a second monitor... not mirrored, but as an actual 2nd monitor (however it is called). And, while I'm asking, can one add MORE than one monitor?

All ears,

Ben

MacBook Pro 2.16 Intel Core Duo, Mac OS X (10.4.11)
  • Kenichi Watanabe Level 7 Level 7 (30,460 points)
    Intel iMacs have a video output port on the back. The current iMac models have a Mini DisplayPort. You would use the appropriate adapter to connect it to a second display. For example, if the second display uses a DVI connector, this is the correct adapter.

    http://store.apple.com/us/product/MB570Z/A?mco=NDY5OTA2OQ

    There are other adapters for HDMI, VGA, and dual-link DVI (for connecting a 30-inch display)

    If it is an older model Intel iMac (2008 model or earlier), it has mini-DVI port, and there are the same type of adapters (except the older port cannot handle dual-link DVI).

    You cannot add a third display directly. However, OWC has a USB-based solution for adding additional displays. It has some limitations compared to a real video connection; you can read about it here.

    http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other%20World%20Computing/VIDU2DVIA/

    If your friend has an existing computer, such as a laptop (does not need to be a Mac), it can be set up to be used as a third display using this program

    http://www.screenrecycler.com/home.html

    This works using VNC screen sharing and the local network connection in a clever way, so there are significant speed limitations. It would be most useful for showing things that are not constantly changing, such as tool palette windows or a Mail windows showing email inbox list, etc. I have an old PC laptop running Ubuntu Linux that I use in this way.
  • Ben Low Level 1 Level 1 (45 points)
    Thank you Kenichi,


    Just perfect. Very helpful. Much much appreciated.


    Ben
  • Lasey L. Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    But if you want to buy the cinema display you can just plug it right in. It looks great next to the iMac too.
  • Ben Low Level 1 Level 1 (45 points)
    Aha! Thank you Lasey. I'm thinking that might be the perfect way to go. I love the Apple Displays ... so remarkably consistent.

    Ben
  • Kenichi Watanabe Level 7 Level 7 (30,460 points)
    The new one does have a glass cover, like the iMac display. It uses LEDs for backlighting instead of the typical CCFL lighting on most displays, including the iMac and 30-inch Cinema Display. And it has its own speakers, iSight camera, and MagSafe power connector (all MacBook-centric features), which are unnecessary when connected to an iMac. So those things add to its cost, but at least you don't need to buy that adapter for $29.

    Or perhaps a MacBook Pro 15" or 17" plus Apple 24" Cinema Display would be a consideration, that provides similar power as the iMac but adds portability...
  • Ben Low Level 1 Level 1 (45 points)
    Thank you Kenichi,


    I will do some weighing for my friend ... a $29 adapter sound pretty good ... I was thinking she could by a generic monitor for $350 with the money she saves by not buying the very top end iMac, just a step down. She'll never notice the difference in speed (who would?), but the extra monitor will be noticed. Perhaps you can recommend a generic monitor? I once picked up an LG Flatron 20" for less than $300 and it, oddly enough, worked quite well with the 24 inch Cinema display (I could almost match them up color wise).

    Any suggestions would be most appreciated,

    Ben
  • Kenichi Watanabe Level 7 Level 7 (30,460 points)
    I believe LG supplies LCD panels to Apple (though not the only supplier). But obviously, the panels Apple uses in its Cinema Display may not be the panels LG uses in their lower cost LG-branded displays.

    I have a lower-end Samsung from a few years ago, and I like it. But it's only 19-inch. My favored display right now is my big old 21-inch CRT (Sun branded - Sony tube), so I can't say I'm too experienced at comparing the currently available LCD panels.

    You might want to visit a local computer superstore, and try looking at a few. The cheapest ones these days seem to use LCD panels made for HDTV's, so they have an even wider aspect ratio, like 1920x1080, and some have HDMI connectors only instead of DVI. They will work with iMacs, but I would stay away from that type and get a 23/24-inch 1920x1200 LCD with a DVI connector.
  • Ben Low Level 1 Level 1 (45 points)
    "They will work with iMacs, but I would stay away from that type and get a 23/24-inch 1920x1200 LCD with a DVI connector..."

    Absolutely. Thank you. That's what I'm going to go looking for. And try to find something that mimics the color tones of the Cinema Display. There is something quite unnerving about cutting film when the two displays are way off. A few years ago I cut a 90 minute film with two 24 inch top-of-the-line monitors (I won't mention any names). They would never match, no matter how I calibrated them. And then we had a weird problem with the RAID drives - not knowing the problem was the RAID drives - and the monitors started to go black at unpredictable moments. In a panic we replaced them with two Apple Displays ... which were identically matched, and stayed matched, and were such a relief to work with. At the same time we discovered a dead drive in the RAID (no warming from the RAID setup that there was a dead drive) which had been causing the problem. But we stayed with the Apple's, they were so much better by comparison.

    Much appreciated Kenichi, thank you

    Ben