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Want to improve flexibility with your Mac (or PC) external display, create more desk space, or just dial in your setup? A VESA monitor arm is a simple way to do all that with great options from under $50. Read along for a look at the best monitor arms for Mac from simple to high-end.
Whether you’ve picked up Apple’s Studio Display, a different monitor, or want to upgrade your existing external display or even an iMac, a good monitor arm is a valuable upgrade for ergonomics, desk setup flexibility, and more.
And if you’re in the market for a new monitor, we’ve got a guide on the top picks for Macs:
While we’ll focus on desk-mount monitor arms below which offer the most flexibility without having to drill holes in your wall, most of the brands mentioned sell a wall-mount version too.
Even though most monitors feature VESA mount support, you’ll want to double-check yours to make sure it’s compatible. For some Apple products like the Pro Display XDR and iMac Pro, you can buy a VESA adapter at any time. Other products like the Studio Display can be modified after purchase at an Apple Store to add a VESA mount if it’s not configured initially.Best monitor arms for Mac (or PC) Vivo
My own setup with the Vivo arm and LG UltraFine display
If you’re looking for a simple design, the matte black Vivo single monitor arm is a timeless option. I’ve had this model for over four years and it’s sturdy, affordable, and works with a wide range of monitor sizes.
I like that you can choose to mount this in the center of your desk or go for an offset, floating display aesthetic – which the pole-style design lends itself to nicely. The main downside here is you need to grab an Allen wrench for some adjustments.
Works with up to 32-inch monitors
Supports up to 22 pounds
Simple and clean design
75 x 75mm and 100 x 100mm VESA compatible
Tilt range: -90 to +90 degrees
Rotation: 360 degrees
Swivel: 360 degrees
Max arm height: 16-inches
Max extension: 16-inches
Cable management clips included
Grommet and clamp mount work with desks up to 3.25-inches thick
Color: matte black
Price: $49.99, often less
Vivo also offers a dual-monitor version for $36 as well as a spring-arm articulating model at $29 like the options below.Huanuo
The Huanuo HNSS6 monitor arm is a gas spring, fully articulating mount that many will see as a step up from the pole style in functionality and also features a bolder design aesthetic.
This monitor arm (and the others below) is great for those that will be adjusting their display regularly and value no-tool repositioning.
Works with up to 30-inch monitors
Supports up to 14.3 pounds
Gas spring makes it easy to adjust and stay in place (no tools needed)
75 x 75mm and 100 x 100mm VESA compatible
Tilt range: -50 to +35 degrees
Rotation: 360 degrees
Swivel: 180 degrees
Max arm height: 16.1-inches
Max extension: 18.5-inches
Cable management included
Alongside the HNSS6 is the dual-monitor HNDS6 priced at $89 (often less) and the HNSS12 at $89 which can hold up to 35-inch monitors. Huanuo also makes a range of wall-mount arms.Ergotron
The Ergotron LX is billed as a professional-grade monitor arm. It sports refined aluminum construction and high-end finish options like polished silver, matte black, and white. The LX also supports large and heavy monitors and comes with a 10-year warranty.
Works with up to 34-inch monitors
Supports up to 25 pounds
Uses Ergotron’s “Constant Force” tech for easy adjustments
75 x 75mm and 100 x 100mm VESA compatible
Tilt range: 75 degrees
Rotation: 360 degrees
Pan: 360 degrees
Max extension: 25-inches
Max lift: 13-inches
Grommet or clamp mount works with desks up to 2.4-inches thick
Cable management included
Color: matte black, polished aluminum, and white
Ergotron makes a dual-monitor version of the LX arm, and a wall-mount version, among its other models.Fully
Fully’s Jarvis Monitor Arm offers an interesting balance between the Huanuo and the Ergotron. It supports almost 20 pounds, comes in three colors, and features a 15-year warranty at less than the cost of the Ergotron.
Works with up to 32-inch monitors
Supports up to 19.8 pounds
Easy tension adjustment
75 x 75mm and 100 x 100mm VESA compatible
Swivel: 360 degrees
Max arm height: 19.8-inches
Max extention: 23.8-inches
Grommet or clamp mount to desks up to 3.5-inches thick
Built-in cable management
Color: black, silver, or white
Price: $129 (sometimes less)Best monitor arms for Mac wrap-up
All of these monitor arms have stood the test of time and earned some of the highest review ratings from users. No matter where you land with what’s most important between design, functionality, finish, and price, there should be something for everyone on the list above.
And when it comes to placing your monitor in the most ergonomic position to avoid neck strain, experts recommend having it so your eyes line up with the top 1/3 of your display. Check out more details on that in our full walkthrough.
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2 Ways to Connect Your Steam Deck to an External Monitor or TV Learn all there is about connecting your Steam Deck to a TV or monitor
Do you want to play on your Steam Deck, but have a much larger picture?
Try setting up a connection between your Steam Deck and your monitor/TV.
Note that the Steam Deck does not have an HDMI connection, only USB.
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You might not have thought it possible at first, but the Steam Deck can connect to an external monitor quite easily.
In fact, the Steam Deck functions exactly as your PC does, only it runs on a different operating system. But don’t let that stop you, as we can show you how to dual boot Windows 10 or 11 on it as well.
And, if you got your hands on a Steam Deck, we can also show you how to change Steam Deck’s resolution, or what are the best Steam Deck verified games.
Now, however, let’s have a look at how to hook the Steam Deck up to another monitor, in case you want to see the bigger picture (pun intended).Does the Steam Deck have an HDMI port?
Since we’re talking about hooking the Steam Deck to other monitors, know that the Steam Deck doesn’t have an HDMI port.
That being said, it does have a USB-C port though, which means you can connect it to your TV or PC with the help of either a USB-C to HDMI adapter or a USB-C dock that includes an HDMI port.
We’re going to take a look at the Steam Deck external monitor settings and find out all there is about connecting the two devices.Can the Steam Deck output 4K?
We were sure this question was on your mind, so know that you can plug any HDMI to USB-C adapter into this and it can output at 4K.
In fact, the Steam Deck gaming device supports both HDMI and DisplayPort, meaning you can more or less plug your Deck into almost any television or monitor you wish.
So, now you know that the docked handheld gaming PC (Steam Deck) will be able to output at 4K, which is an unexpected bonus.How many FPS can Steam Deck do?
Well, now that Steam Deck supports a 40Hz refresh rate, users can enjoy the perfect middle-ground between 30 and 60 FPS.
There is also a limiter, which allows you to limit the frame rate to 45 fps, 22 fps, and so on, depending on your preferences.
Limiting your frame rate can help you fix unstable frame rates and screen tearing issues, plus save some wear and tear on your Deck’s GPU if it’s in danger of overheating on a particular game.
You are also probably wondering about Steam Deck’s external monitor FPS, or the Steam Seck gaming mode performance on an external monitor, so let’s take a close look.How do I connect my Steam Deck to an external monitor? 1. With a USB-C cable
As we mentioned above, Valve’s Steam Deck gaming device will come with a USB port, which will make things a lot easier.
Some TVs or monitors, however, don’t have a USB port and will require an HDMI connection in order to use it with Steam Deck.
That’s why it will be really handy if you had an adapter, which will facilitate this process and you can go back to gaming.
So, simply connect your Steam Deck and monitor/TV through the USB cable/adapter, and you are set and ready to go.2. With a Steam Deck dock
Another method you can use to establish a connection Between the Steam Deck and the desired monitor/TV is to use a dock.
You can find these devices online, for different prices, but keep in mind that these are not official Valve products, and although compatible, in some cases, can harm your device.
Purchase one, unpack it, position the Steam Dock in the intended position, connect the USB cable, and you are set.Does Steam Deck have a docking station?
Valve is also working on an official Steam Deck dock, but due to parts shortages and COVID closures at our manufacturing facilities, the official Steam Deck Docking Station is delayed.
The company also stated that, while we wait, the team is continuing to work on improving the docked experience for Steam Deck with all USB-C hubs and external displays.Steam Deck external monitor not working
On your Steam Deck, open Settings.
Open Display Configuration.
Make sure your monitor is selected, and that the setting is Enabled.
In order to avoid these situations, make sure that the TV or monitor you are trying to hook your handheld gaming rig to are compatible.
If compatibility isn’t an issue, but the monitor refuses to come out of sleep mode, or even turn on, alter the settings we’ve shown you above.
That is pretty much all the information you need regarding the Steam Deck’s external monitor resolution or instructions on how to make it happen.
Steam Deck’s external monitor connection resolution can be up to 1080p, and even 4K steam, so keep that in mind when talking about the Steam Decks external monitor performance.
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Screen Goes Black When Connected to External Monitor [Fix] Wrong cables and bad drivers are a few of the causes of this error
If your laptop’s monitor ever goes blank when you connect an external monitor, you have a serious connection problem.
This can be caused by missing files, overheating, out-of-date drivers, and all sorts of things.
To fix this error, you need to first disable some startup apps to improve performance and then update your system.
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Imagine this scenario: you just bought a brand new 4K monitor, and you’re ready to connect to your gaming laptop so you enjoy playing video games in a gorgeous resolution.
But then, when you connect the external monitor to your computer, your laptop’s main screen goes black. So what gives? Put it: you have a serious connection problem that needs to be fixed quickly.What causes this connection problem with my monitor?
Your computer’s monitor going black can be caused by many things, from faulty hardware to out-of-date software. Below is a list pointing out some of the more common culprits.
You have some faulty hardware – Malfunctioning hardware is a common problem and can result from corrupt files or bugs in your RAM. We recommend running an SFC scan.
The laptop has a faulty power supply – If the power supply is causing problems, contact the manufacturer. Apps like AIDA64 Extreme can also be used to diagnose power supply issues.
Graphics drivers are out of date – You must always download the latest patches. Out-of-date drivers are often the culprit behind a lot of computer problems. Luckily, updating is really easy to do.
The computer is lacking the latest Windows 11 update – Lacking important updates means you’re missing out on important fixes. Always stays up-to-date with Microsoft’s Patch Tuesdays.
Your computer is way too hot – Overheating can be a computer killer, so always make sure your machine runs at an optimal temperature. Disabling startup apps can lower the temperature.
You’re using the wrong ports – It’s entirely possible your HDMI has been inserted into the wrong port. Double-check your cables are going into the right place.How can I stop my external monitor from going black?
There are several ways to fix this error. Most of the time, it’s usually something that was overlooked. All you need to do is adjust some settings. But there are instances where it’s a more serious problem.
The first thing that you should do is double-check your cables and connections. Perhaps one of the cables wasn’t properly entered into the port, or the monitor isn’t on.
Likewise, try using different cables. You have some faulty cables, so if you have an extra one lying around, plug that one in. If worse comes to worst, you might have to buy another cable.
While trying out different cables, you might also want to use another port, like plugging into a DisplayPort input instead of an HDMI.
If you insist on using an HDMI cable or if it’s all you have, we recommend connecting to an external monitor while your computer is hibernating or in sleep mode.
You can also try turning your computer off first and then connecting the second monitor to it. Once connected, turn your computer on.
It’s also possible the problem is a software issue. Be sure to install the latest Windows 11 Update from Microsoft. They carry a multitude of fixes.
Recovery software like Kernal Data Recovery can restore important system files that may have been deleted. Windows 11 has its native tool, but you’re better off using a third-party app.
And if all else fails, you must run a system recovery to revert your computer to its factory settings. Instructions on how to do this can be found on Microsoft’s website.1. Use the main monitor instead
In case you require an automatic process to update your monitor drivers and get the latest official version, the software below is the right fit.
Often, your computer system might not be able to update the generic drivers for your hardware and peripherals correctly. There are vital differences between a generic driver and a manufacturer’s driver. Finding the correct driver versions for every hardware component can become tiresome.
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Download and install the Outbyte Driver Updater app.
Launch the software and wait for the app to detect all incompatible drivers.
Now, it will show you a list of all outdated drivers to select the ones to Update or Ignore.
Restart your PC to ensure the applied changes.
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Disclaimer: You may need to upgrade the app from the free version to perform specific actions.3. Double-check Windows Presentation mode
Hold down the Windows key and press the P key once. This will cause the Windows Presentation Mode selection screen to appear on the right side.
See if the Second screen only option is selected. If it is, switch it to any of the other options – namely Duplicate or Extend.
Wait a few seconds for the changes to take effect.4. Perform a system reset What can I do if the laptop isn’t detecting my second monitor?
It’s also recommended that you run the Hardware and Devices troubleshooter, which can be found in the Control Panel if you don’t want to revert your computer to its factory settings.
You can fix this problem just by tweaking the Windows Display settings or adjusting the DPI Scaling feature on each app; however, the latter option can be pretty time-consuming.
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These Are the Top Cybersecurity Threats to Watch BU cybersecurity expert talks about what the US should do to protect our data privacy
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Last year kicked off with Cambridge Analytica being exposed for acquiring access to private data on at least 87 million Facebook users and wrapped up with Marriott announcing that 500 million of its accounts had been hacked. Quora, MyFitnessPal, Google+, MyHeritage, and Lord & Taylor also recently experienced cybersecurity breaches—each exposing the sensitive data of millions of users. As 2023 gets underway, cybersecurity threats continue to loom. So how can we protect our data? BU Research asked Ari Trachtenberg, Boston University professor of electrical and computer engineering, cybersecurity expert, and member of the Boston University Cyber Alliance, for his take on the most widespread cybersecurity threats to anticipate in coming months—and the policies, regulations, and business practices that can help mitigate cyber risk and increase privacy protection.BU Research: What is the most widespread cybersecurity threat we should be aware of?
Businesses can get ahead of this by suggesting transparent and independently verifiable protections for consumers. However, it is also becoming increasingly clear that there is very little that consumers can do to mitigate their loss of privacy from third parties (with whom, very often, they do not even have a relationship). Perhaps the most effective recourse (in democracies) is political.What are the biggest policy gaps from a privacy perspective that need to be addressed?
With respect to data privacy, I think that the most important task that can be accomplished by government (not just the White House, but also Congress and the judiciary) is to define a clear liability for loss of privacy. Today, companies can lose personal and sensitive information on millions of customers with little more than a social stigma (which companies have lots of experience battling through their public relations departments). Our courts do not know how to put a dollar amount on a person’s loss of privacy. As a result, there is no clear and strong financial incentive for companies to tighten their privacy protections. It feels like we live in a privacy Wild West, where each week an even bigger privacy breach is reported—and that’s only among those that are actually publicly reported.
Liability has proven an excellent way of addressing such issues in the product landscape, where, for example, manufacturers now carefully test their electrical equipment and get Underwriter Laboratories (UL) certification or risk significant lawsuits if people get injured. To see similar success in the cyber world, we need a well-defined and enforceable definition of privacy liability.Do you think there will be a push for more regulations on how big technology companies, such as Facebook and Google, use and monetize consumer data?
I think that there will be a push for either breaking up big technology companies or regulating them much more heavily. The big tech companies each maintain control over historically unprecedented amounts of data that, with the help of modern computing, are highly individualized. On the one hand, they appear to have the power to swing elections and social policies, steer financial and stock markets, and read trends at a scale never before possible. On the other hand, their newfound wealth allows them to propel grand challenges and technical vision that cannot be enacted on a smaller scale (i.e., autonomous vehicles, searchable global encyclopedias, worldwide buying markets, etc.).
My preference would be for breaking up the larger companies rather than regulating them, as loophole-free regulations are notoriously hard to write properly without stifling innovation and transparency.Data privacy and data security have long been considered two separate missions with two separate objectives. Do you think this is changing?
With respect to data privacy versus security, I would say that the two are technically (but not socially) inextricable. Security breaches are responsible for huge losses of privacy, and privacy breaches can often be leveraged for security vulnerabilities. However, as I mentioned earlier, unlike the broad cybersecurity area, there is very little financial interest in protecting privacy in today’s industrial (or, frankly, governmental) landscape.Consumers are paying more attention to maintaining and controlling their personal privacy and data from corporations. Aside from potential policy regulations, do you think new technology solutions will emerge to help consumers maintain better control of their data?
The technological threat landscape is huge, and we really do not have a handle on how to technically protect it. My personal thought is that the task is impossible—much like making a pick-proof lock or an unsinkable ship. Instead, we need to focus our attention on joint technical and legal solutions.What should modern-day cybersecurity officers be doing to mitigate the growing data privacy risk?
There is always more to be done in the cybersecurity domain, but there are some basic “best practices” that every chief information security officer (CISO) should know and train employees to maintain.
One way to mitigate privacy risk is, quite simply, not to store or process private or sensitive information. Companies should think very carefully about every bit of information that they get from customers, weighing the benefit of having this information against the risk of losing it. The problem is that very often, companies do not realize just how damaging the information loss can be. For example, the LinkedIn 2012 breach of (poorly) hashed passwords would later be used in extortion emails, which used the cracked passwords to convince unfortunate recipients that the extortionists had compromising information.Where do you think the most funding is needed in cybersecurity research? Are there areas that you feel should be prioritized?
I think that the US needs, quite desperately, more funding for basic research of all types, not just cybersecurity research. True innovation does not often come from administrative guidance, but rather through inspiration and chasing down unforeseen ideas.What impact would you specifically like to achieve in the cybersecurity/privacy space?
I have been analyzing the emerging field of side channels, where information is leaked (typically unintentionally) from the regular use of technical devices and software. My goal would be to develop some broad, overarching properties of these channels, where they form, and how we can mitigate them. The impact of such work would be a safer, more open technical world—but very few people would actually realize it.
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Apple releases at least one new iPhone every year, and the coverage has become predictable: reviews (accurately) herald “the best iPhone yet,” typically based on “small but important changes that refine the user experience.” Based on everything we know about the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, you can expect the same narrative again this year — starting with the obligatory sigh of similarity that precedes the review of every S model, and ending with the common recommendation to “go buy one unless you can wait until next year.”
For professional reasons, I’ve owned every iPhone since the original 2007 model, and upgraded every single year regardless of how small or large the differences were between models. This year, for the first time, I sold off my current-generation iPhone to maximize the cash I’d get towards the purchase of a new model, and as an experiment, I went back to using the iPhone 5s (updated to iOS 9) to see whether any of the differences really mattered. After a week with the old iPhone, I can’t wait for a new one: there are a lot of reasons to prefer Apple’s bigger, better 6-series phones. So if you’re on the fence about going from any iPhone 4/4S or 5/5s/5c to a new iPhone 6S, trust me, you’ll want to get ready to upgrade now…
The following 10 reasons to upgrade from an older iPhone to the iPhone 6S aren’t necessarily in order of absolute importance, but they’re in roughly the order that I noticed the differences between my iPhone 6 Plus versus the iPhone 5s.
Battery Life Is Hugely Better. This is a surprisingly big improvement, particularly on the “Plus” model. I went from constantly charging my 5s to never thinking about charging during the day (sometimes even at night) with the 6 Plus. Going back to constant charging on the 5s was the biggest step backwards for me, and a major factor weighing in the larger Plus model’s favor. I’m expecting that the iPhone 6S will beat the iPhone 6 in battery life.
Touch ID Matters, And Apple Pay Is Great. I wasn’t a Touch ID fan or user on the iPhone 5s. It seemed almost pointless in Apple’s first implementation, and unless you locked your iPhone with a password, no faster than swiping to unlock. But in newer iPhones, the fingerprint scanner is noticeably faster and more reliable. Moreover, in-store Apple Pay is a wonderful feature, turning your iPhone into a nearly complete substitute for a wallet. According to reports, Touch ID will be even faster and more reliable on the iPhone 6S, which may make swiping to unlock a thing of the past.
Camera Improvements Are Serious. Better photography was the single biggest reason I sold my iPhone to upgrade to the iPhone 6S. If you’re still using an iPhone 4 or 4S, you’ll notice a huge jump upgrading to even the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, but the iPhone 6S is highly likely to include major improvements to both the front and rear cameras. This is likely to be the biggest resolution boost to the selfie-snapping front camera in years, and the first jump in megapixels for the rear camera since the iPhone 4S. Expect to see superior low-light performance, too.
You’ll Notice Faster Speeds. Every year, Apple puts a newer, faster processor into the latest iPhone, and even if the speed differences aren’t gigantic from year to year, they’re very noticeable between two-year updates. The iPhone 6S appears to be ready for a big jump in processing power, as well as a doubling of RAM that will let you enjoy more apps and web pages without the need to re-load. Even between the iPhone 5s and iPhone 6, the improved app loading speed and 3-D performance are obvious when you try to go back from new to old. It’ll only be better with the iPhone 6S.
Split Screen iOS + Landscape Mode. The iPhone 6 Plus expanded the iPhone’s support for landscape-orientation apps, sometimes letting the screen split in two panes and — for the first time — including a landscape Home Screen orientation. If you’ve ever felt like you didn’t want to hold your iPhone upright after passing the Lock Screen, you’ll find that the 6 Plus (and 6S Plus) make that a lot easier than earlier iPhones.
Apple Watch Support. Depending on how old your iPhone is, you may find that the iPhone 6S is your first device with support for the Apple Watch. As fans of the Apple Watch will attest, the iPhone is handy for tracking your activity, adding Apple Pay cards and Passbook passes, and sharing all sorts of data with your wrist. Even if none of this appeals to you, support is there if you change your mind in the future.
Force Touch. My colleague Mark Gurman has explained how Force Touch on the iPhone 6S will let you take one-press shortcuts through iOS apps that previously required multiple presses and hunting through menus. Apple will detail the feature when the new iPhone is unveiled next month, but you can safely expect to see very cool uses of a pressure-sensitive screen that will make traditional iPhone displays feel old.
Color Options. Depending on the age of your iPhone, you may be upgrading from a white- or black-only model, a silver, gray, or gold model, or a plasticky model to the iPhone 6S. If rumors pan out, this will be the first time an iPhone is available in pink metal — otherwise you’ll have the ability to get the latest tweaked gray, gold, and silver variants, this time made from a more resilient aluminum alloy than past iPhones.
I was excited enough about the upcoming S-series upgrades to trade in my iPhone ahead of the iPhone 6S launch, and have shared some tips here as to how you can do the same. If you purchased an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus last year, you’ll be OK holding off unless you’re as big of a photography buff as I am, in which case you might want to think about upgrading to the 6S. I’m pretty sure that users of older iPhones are going to find this year’s model very tempting.
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Windows 8 doesn’t require a touch-sensitive display, but once you begin using a monitor that supports all those groovy new touch gestures, you’ll find that the OS offers a completely different (and more engaging) experience.
This fact presents challenges for desktop PC users who’ve just upgraded to Windows 8. Should you stick with your current nontouch display, or move to a new one that offers touch support? Which features are important in a touch-capable display? As for other multitouch-friendly hardware options, can they deliver the same cutting-edge touch features that new Ultrabooks, hybrids and tablets possess?
Follow along as we answer all of these essential upgrading questions. (If you just want to know which desktop touch displays are available now, jump past the next section.)Windows 8 has gone touch crazy
Even in the standard Windows desktop, touch works better than it did in Windows 7. In fact, some new Windows 8 devices come with pressure-sensitive styluses that let you draw or paint digitally with predictable precision.
Many traditional desktop PC users may feel that touch support is unnecessary for Windows 8. And if you work primarily in traditional desktop applications—such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, and various PC games—that’s probably true. But as you start to use more Windows Store apps, you’ll find yourself reaching out to touch your screen more and more often, and you may start to regret that your display doesn’t support touch.
The good news is that numerous multitouch displays that fully support Windows 8 are on the horizon. You just need to choose the one that best suits your needs and your budget.Windows 8 certified displays are already here
At this writing, Windows 8 isn’t yet a month old, so touch-ready desktop displays constitute a very immature product category. And for the same reason, the current crop of touch-enabled monitors is fairly expensive.
The 23-inch Acer T232HL retails for $499, while its larger 27-inch sibling will sell for $700. The Acer uses an extremely simple, springloaded stand that’s essentially a large, bent piece of metal, albeit a good-looking bent piece of metal.
DellDell’s S2340T includes USB 3.0 ports, a webcam, and an array microphone.
The Dell S2340T costs $650—expensive for a 23-inch, 1080p display—but it ships with a cool stand that can tilt completely flat, along with additional USB 3.0 ports, a webcam, and an array microphone. The Dell and Acer monitors are full IPS displays, so the panel technology is high quality.
Planar has introduced its Helium 8 (aka the PCT2785), a 27-inch, full HD panel that looks to sell for $899. Meanwhile, LG has announced the ET83 Touch 10, but that model’s pricing and availability are unknown as yet.
The first rule of monitor shopping is, Don’t skimp on image quality! Even if your budget is tight, try to find the best-quality display you can afford. You can work around awkward pedestals and poorly located cable connectors. But you’ll be staring at your screen day in and day out, so it’s not the place to economize.
Luckily, current-generation touch displays, though expensive, seem to be using high-quality components. Most boast IPS (in-plane switching) technology, which offers a wide range of satisfactory viewing angles plus good color fidelity.
You won’t find multitouch desktop displays with resolutions higher than 1920 by 1080 (also known as “full HD”). Even 27-inch touch displays are limited to 1080p; and no 2560-by-1440-resolution displays with capacitive touch are yet available for discrete, stand-alone monitors. Fortunately, display quality is great at 1080p on many touch displays.Five-point versus ten-point touch
Microsoft’s certification requirements for Windows 8 devices are fairly stringent. To be Windows 8 certified, a monitor must be able to to react to five simultaneous touch points. This excludes touch technologies based on side-mounted infrared sensors, for example, as they often can’t detect occluded finger touches. The solution of choice for current-generation displays is ten-point capacitive touch sensor arrays, similar to those used in smartphones and tablets. These sensors are pricey, which clearly contributes to the fairly high price tags on Windows 8-ready desktop displays.
Microsoft also established fairly strict guidelines governing how displays should integrate side bezels. Various Windows 8 gestures involve swiping inward from the edge of a bezel, which demands a new approach to display design. All of the Windows 8 touch displays I’ve seen add a thin layer of glass that covers both the LCD panel surface and the bezel in a continuous sheet. This sheet typically incorporates the capacitive touch sensor as well.
Another key requirement addresses how the touch interface should communicate with system hardware. Microsoft specifies that the touch interface must connect via either USB or the i2C bus. Because i2C is a circuit-to-circuit connection that’s unavailable when you attach an external monitor, USB is the only practical option as a connection path under those conditions. Bottom line: If you want to attach an external touch display, you’ll need an open USB port on your PC. Microsoft doesn’t specify a particular version of USB, so USB 2.0 is probably good enough.
I’ve been using a 23-inch Acer T232HL panel. It’s already available at retail, and it comes with a USB 3.0 connection and cable. Whether I connect it to a USB 3.0 or USB 2.0 port doesn’t seem to matter: The touch features work fine either way.
AcerAcer’s T232HL is a 23-inch IPS display with touch support.
Other requirements in the certification document involve things that aren’t listed in product specs and that you can’t check for when comparison-shopping. But if the display you’re considering is Windows 8 certified, it does support those features. Two of them, in particular, are quite interesting:
Second, the display’s touch digitizer must be HID compliant. HID (human interface device) is the standard for USB input devices. An HID-compliant device won’t require a separate driver—so once you connect the USB interface, touch should work, with no further device driver installation required.
Various other certification requirements address touch latency, touch separation detection, and more. The only technology that covers all of these bases today is capacitive touch. Other technologies, including infrared sensors, seem promising, but no manufacturer yet ships a display that meets Windows 8 certification while using sensors other than capacitive touch.Connections and ergonomics
In addition to having USB connections, you’ll need display connectors. Most displays ship with DVI and even VGA connectors, but they also typically include HDMI connectors. And some monitors, such as Dell’s aforementioned 23-inch S2340T, include DisplayPort connectors.
Product designers are also doing interesting things with stands and ergonomics. The Acer T232HL (shown above) uses a single, curved bar attached via a ratcheted spring mechanism to enable the display to tilt at various angles, depending on how you want to use the hardware.
Dell’s S2340T, meanwhile, offers an impressively flexible stand that you can tilt easily at various angles, including completely flat (see below). The USB 3.0 ports are on the base and are easy to reach. The Dell also includes a webcam and an array microphone, which make its $650 price a bit more palatable.
DellDell’s display brings new meaning to the term “flat panel.”
What about support for multiple displays? Well, you probably don’t need two or three touch displays, as most of your touch opportunities will occur in single-screen-only Windows 8 apps and in the Windows 8 Start screen. Of course, you can use touch on the Windows 8 desktop, but there it’s useful primarily for basic system navigation—such as for calling up the Charms bar.
I’ve already mentioned the dearth of high-resolution touch displays, but integrating multitouch in high-resolution monitors is certainly possible. Case in point: Dell already sells a 27-inch all-in-one—the XPS One—that features a native 2560 by 1440 resolution. Whether future touch displays take this direction will depend largely on consumer demand and on how much consumers are willing to pay. The prices of 27-inch, 2560 by 1440 panels are starting to drop, so I hope that we’ll see some high-resolution models with multitouch support by early 2013.In lieu of a new display Bottom line
During conversations with various display manufacturers, I learned that capacitive touch sensors add about $100 to the price of a display. This premium will likely decrease over time. For now, though, if you want a touch-enabled Windows 8 experience on your desktop, you’ll have to pay a price premium to get it. Nevertheless, once you start using those new touch gestures, you’ll have a hard time going back.
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