Can I use my laptop as a monitor for my PC?

Posted on 2009-04-23
Last Modified: 2013-11-17
I have a cramped workspace.  Most work is done on my laptop, but I have some work I need to do off my PC.  Is it possible to use my laptop as a monitor for my PC instead of the CRT monitor that is hooked to it now?  Ideally I would like the ability to toggle the screen between the PC and my laptop desktops so I could work on both.  I've got an HP dv 9000 laptop with all media hookups and just about every kind of port imaginable on it.  I hope this is possible so I can put this CRT in storage.

Question by:vsllc
    LVL 39

    Expert Comment

    No you can not do that, but you can use CTR monitor and KLM switch to use same monitor for laptop and desktop PC.
    LVL 95

    Accepted Solution

    What's a CTR Monitor?  And a KLM Switch?


    The answer is MAYBE.  Depends on how you want to do this, what kind of video performance you need, and what operating system you are using on your desktop.

    You can essentially "remote control" the desktop using one of the following methods:
    * Remote Desktop (if the desktop is using Windows XP Pro, Vista Business, or Vista Ultimate).  
    * Regardless of what OS, you can use the free VNC to remotely control the system (TightVNC/UltraVNC/RealVNC should all work)
    * Use a third party product such as PC Anywhere, Timbuktu, DameWare or something else.

    Now, you don't get BIOS level access to the system, but you WOULD be able to remotely control the system when in Windows.  I have several "headless" (as in no monitor) servers running like this and frankly, I do most of my work (including answering this question) on my office computer while I am sitting at home and/or at clients or just out.

    Author Comment

    OK.  The desktop is running XP Home.  I've used both VNC and Remote desktop as clients so I pretty sure I could handle figuring out the setup.  This does bring up 2 follow up questions:

    1.  I assume the video performance/quality would be limited to the card on the desktop correct?
    2.  I don't want the desktop on the internet.  I do have a router that I could use to network the desktop and laptop but I don't want the possibility of passing a virus or something from the laptop to the pc.  By plugging them both into the same router and using VNC or remote desktop to connect them would I run this risk?
    LVL 95

    Expert Comment

    by:Lee W, MVP
    1.  No.  Quality is based on the protocol and protocol version used.  No remote control apps that I've seen can handle streaming video or directX games.  However, Windows 7 MAY be able to but I'm not sure what requirements that will have (for example, do BOTH systems have to run Windows 7 or just one?
    2.  The desktop doesn't have to be on the internet, BUT, a network connection MUST exist.  So if the laptop is on the internet and the desktop is not, they must still be on the same network and for that to work, the laptop could, in theory, infect the desktop.  However, if you aren't sharing anything on the desktop, the odds of this are EXTREMELY EXTREMELY low.  (The way to keep the desktop off the internet, set it's IP statically, then DO NOT set a gateway - it won't have any way to communicate outside your local network.
    LVL 5

    Expert Comment

    by:Gregg DesElms
    Why not just consolidate everything onto the dv9000 and stop using the desktop?  If so, then you could also get one of HP's really slick docking stations (or, as HP prefers to call them, "expansion bases") for whenever the dv9000 is at home.


    I, personally, have the xb3000 expansion base... but that's nothing but an older version of the xb4 linked-to above.  By using one of HP's more powerful notebooks capable of being a desktop replacement; and then having such as the xb4 at home and office, one can have the best of all worlds...

    ...and only one system to keep-up with.  No synching.  No VPNing.  No remote desktoping.  No switches.  No... well... you get the picture.

    I'm reading this thread and cringing at the possibilities.  I mean, if the CRT's too physically large, and if you insist on both a laptop and desktop, then you're be ahead of the game to just get a new LCD monitor to replace the CRT.  At least then you could mount it on the wall or something... which would free-up all kinds of desk space and whatnot compared with the CRT.  If you did that, then you could conceivably use a switch to share keyboard/mouse/monitor between the two machines (e.g., just have the notebook's lid closed when in the expansion base, but the notebook still turned on and running, but using the shared monitor) if you wanted.  Or, better yet, in my opinion, let the new LCD monitor be dedicated to the desktop, and just use the dv9000's own LCD whenever you're using that machine.  The dv9000's screen is, after all, 17.4-inches in physical size.  Assuming that you're sitting a normal distance from it, just exactly how much larger does it need to be for normal, day-to-day use?

    The only problem is that depending on which dv9000 you have, you may only be limited to 2 GB of RAM and a slightly slower processor than I'd like... which, I admit, if that's the case with yours, might challenge my assertion that it's powerful enough to be your only machine.

    That said, though... honestly... my strategy, of late, has been to go with notebooks which are sufficiently potent to be complete desktop replacements.  Only if I needed some slick, special, how-powered, super-charged PCI card of some kind (like if I did audio/video stuff, or cad or something) on the machine would I even consider, anymore, a desktop.  I've got just one notebook with a half-terrabyte hard drive in it; a fast processor, 6GB RAM, an expansion base at home and office; and I could not be happier.  My desktop machines are still around, but my primary machine, now, is just the notebook... using just its 17-inch monitor when sitting in the expansion base.  The only difference between the expansion bases at home versus work is that the one at home has seriously-good external speakers and sub-woofer; and a one-terrabyte external hard drive for backup and archiving.

    It's the best way to go... but that's just my opinion... for what it's worth (which my ex-wife will tell you ain't much).
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    Expert Comment

    just remote access your PC using your laptop. voila

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