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Dual Monitors E6500 with Docking Station and Vista

Posted on 2009-04-27
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So we have a Dell e6500 and we also have the basic docking station(port replicator) for it.  This is the standard one and not the more "advanced" version of the docking station.  I have a 21" widescreen dell monitor that I connected to the docking station.  I would have used two monitors for this setup but I did not have two monitors that both supported DVI-D so I thought that using one monitor and then the laptop as the second monitor would work perfect for this situation.  I spoke to the user and he was cool with the idea so I went to work.  

After an initial strugle I was able to get it to span through both the laptop lcd and the 21" widescreen.  Once I had it working I was a little nervous that as soon as the user undocked and came back we were going to have all sorts of problems getting this setup to work again.  I only thought this because all of the laptops I have worked with that use Vista Business have a heck of a time working correctly when being undocked and docked again.  Never had this problem with XP laptops a couple years ago but Vista has always given me a lot of trouble with docking stations.

So sure enough the user leaves for an extended business trip and returns.  The laptop is off before he docks.  Powers on the laptop in the dock with the lid open hoping that the same configuration would start up again.  No luck, instead the widescreen monitor doesn't have any display and when you look in the Display settings in Vista it doesn't even see the Widescreen monitor.  So I turn the laptop off, close the lid and power it back up.  This time the widescreen works but comes up as the only display.  If I open the lid on the laptop it stays blank and never turns on.  So I power the laptop down again and this time open the lid and power it on.  This time both monitors span without a problem.  So it looks like I have to close the lid and turn it on, then shut it down and open the lid and then both monitors will return to the dual monitor "spanning" configuration.

This is obviously not ideal for the user to have to go through just to have dual monitor capability.  Does anyone have any ideas of what could fix this issue or what is causing the issue in the first place?

Your help is appreciated.

Thanks,

Jake
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Question by:ITPIP
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0ttaRulez earned 2000 total points
ID: 24268244
it's very hard to get dual screens working when one screen is the portable's screen. This is moslty because the videocards do a very bad job, u might wanne try to update the drivers and see if the support for dual screens is better. But i wouldn't count to much on it.

I would suggest to buy an extra screen with DVI connection if that cost would be to high u could also consider a Matrox dualhead2go, these can be bought with the connection u want and alway's work because the configuration is stored in the device itself.

Here is the link: http://www.matrox.com/graphics/en/products/gxm/dh2go/
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Author Comment

by:ITPIP
ID: 24317906
Well I appreciate your information.  I will give you the points for it as the suggestions you made are good ones.  The drivers are the newest version so I don't think that will help me but the Dual Head 2 Go option is definitly there and if I ever deperately need dual monitors on the new Dell laptop to work without purchasing two new monitors I guess I will go with that.

I blame this one squarely on Dell though.  Not every monitor setup we purchase needs to have DVI inputs to work for us and the savings on standard LCD monitors without DVI are enough that we almost always purchase those.  In fact the only LCD monitors that we have in house that have DVI input on them are the few widescreeen monitors we have.

Dell's old D series docks used to have two outputs and if that didn't work you could always place a PCI based graphics card in the large dock to allow for dual monitors.  It always worked and I never had to go through so much trouble to try and get dual monitors for a laptop user.

Thanks for the info.  Your the only one that stepped forward to try and help anyways so I appreciate it!
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Expert Comment

by:ctna
ID: 24452169
Same problem here with XP and Vista. The bets solution I have found is to save your dual display profile. The nVidia adapter and software allows you to save profiles. When the user docks and finds the display not to his/her liking, they can go to the nVidia control panel (right click desktop and choose nVidia control panel), within the app, choose Profile, Load, choose your saved profile.
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