Using a Powerbook with an external LCD monitor

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by steeveage, Dec 26, 2004.

  1. macrumors member

    Sep 23, 2004
    Redwood City, CA
    I am in the market for my first LCD monitor (the 80 lb 21" Mitsubishi Diamond Pro CRT is starting to become an eyesore). I currently own a 17" Powerbook G4, and would like to be able to use this LCD monitor to plug into my Powerbook if need be. Here's my question -- the max resolution of this laptop is 1440 x 900. I'm looking at the Apple Cinema Displays which sport optimum resolutions of 1680 x 1050 (20") and 1920 x 1200 (23"). What will happen when I plug my Powerbook into these monitors? Will the 1440 x 900 picture from my laptop be scaled to fit into these 20" or 23" monitors? Will this give the monitors that "blurry" or "fuzzy" appearance that you see when setting your LCD to its non-native resolution? I see that Apple actually touts connecting a Cinema Display to a PB -- I'd hope it's not too hideous. Any advice is appreciated!
  2. macrumors 6502a


    Mar 3, 2004
    the great OKLAHOMA....
    If you mirror your screens....then it will keep your Powerbooks resoultion. But since you have a Powerbook, you have what is known as Monitor Spanning. It creates a 2nd desktop, that the GPU sets the resolution and refresh rate at whatever you want. I have a 12" Powerbook, and i hook up the 20" inch screen on it (the 20 inch has twice as many pixels) with no problem.
    Hope this helps.

  3. macrumors newbie

    Nov 13, 2003
    I have a 12in powerbook where the res. is 1028 X 768 give or take a few , but if i get a 19 in lcd that is 10** x 10** give or take a few , and i am spanning , the picture on the 19 wont look bad because the GPU fixes the picture ? I would think that the picture would be big and fuzzy, but what do I know. If anyone has a 12in powerbook that uses an external LCD let me know how it works. I do appreciate everythings.
  4. macrumors 68000


    May 31, 2004
    Pitch forking mulch in Nova Scotia, Canada
    Depending on what you want to do, no matter what, your GPU will be able to drive the monitor in it's native resolution. One option is to run your powerbook with the lid shut, and have external keyboard mouse and display, or you can do what jackieonasses mentioned and run the external display as another desktop. Mirroring, i'm sure is another option which you can select when you have another display connected to you powerbook.
  5. macrumors 68000

    Daveman Deluxe

    Jun 17, 2003
    Corvallis, Oregon
    On the PowerBooks, the external monitor does not have to run at the same resolution as the built-in LCD. You have that option, but it doesn't necessarily have to be. You can run the external monitor one of three ways:

    1) Keep the PB's lid closed and hook up an external keyboard and mouse, and use the external monitor as the only screen. In this instance, you STILL don't have to use the internal LCD's resolution.
    2) Run the PB open and have the "extended desktop" option, where the external LCD is an extension to the desktop displayed by the internal LCD. In this case, you do not have to use the internal LCD's resolution.
    3) Mirror the internal LCD's monitor. In this case, you DO use the internal LCD's resolution, and you can get the fuzzy image due to using a non-native resolution on the external LCD.
  6. thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 23, 2004
    Redwood City, CA
    Thanks DaveMan, that clears up the situation perfectly. I think I was getting confused between the GPU having a native resolution (which makes no sense) and the LCD it's driving having a native resolution. Great! I feel confident plunking down $$ for that LCD now.
  7. macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    You can have two monitors running at different resolutions. Spanned. Just that when you try and drag a window across, it won't go across unless you have enough space on the monitor you are dragging it to. So if I have my 12" screen and a 20" screen (donations accepted) then if I try and go from the 20" to the 12" the window won't go across unless I drag through the middle of the 20" screen which equates to the entire 12" screen.
  8. macrumors regular

    Aug 22, 2005
    thank god i found this thread.. lol.. ive been getting migranes trying to figure out if a 1280 by 768 monitor will work with the powerbook.. i get confused with the whole spanning idea
  9. macrumors 6502

    Oct 15, 2003
    Heck, you can even attach two external monitors and run them plus your built-in TFT screen at three different resolutions. (You'll generally need a PC Card to drive the extra external).

    Margi makes one (I think it's called Display-to-Go) and VillageTronic makes another (VTBookDD, the one that I have).
  10. macrumors 6502

    Jul 24, 2002
    One more tip:

    Once you have window spanning going, in display preferences on the arrangement window, I bring my dock and task bar (or whatever the correct mac term is..)and then drag them onto the icon for the external monitor to allow the external to operate as the primary monitor and the laptop monitor as the "extended" monitor...

    then simply buy the icurve monitor stand and enjoy ;)
  11. macrumors member

    Nov 25, 2004
    before you buy the cinema, make sure your PB has a DVI out. My 12" rev a does not so the 20" could only be used with a £200 adapter. Another option is the Dell series which have a great reputation, look a bit lower class, but cost 1/2 the price - with both DVI in and VGA!

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