AVSIM Commercial Hardware Review

Matrox Digital TripleHead2Go

Rating Guide
Publisher: Matrox Graphics
Description:  Their latest technology allowing you to hook up three DVI input monitors from a single monitor output and span the display across all three screens.
Download Size:
N/A
Format:
Hardware
Simulation Type:
Support to over 150 popular game titles
Reviewed by: Robert Whitwell AVSIM Reviews Editor - July 8, 2007

Introduction

Last year, staff reviewer Zane Gard reported on this "revolutionary" black box that allowed the user to connect 3 monitors together and have your video presentation spread across the entire viewing area or be able to multi-task with 3 applications visible at the same time. Now Matrox has upped the little black box to keep in line with technology. They have released the Digital version of the TripleHead2Go (TH2G).

While Zane described in detail the workings and application of the original TH2G, I will highlight the differences and updates of the digital version. Most of the obvious differences are esthetic in appearance and and a slight change in installation and configuration.

Installation and Setup

Inside the package is the newly configured "black box" as well as the required cables. A noticeable difference was the lack of a power cord.

The digital version of the TH2G plugs into a USB slot vice into the wall. Also, the input into the TH2G has two options, a DVI connector or a VGA connector. Both VGA-to-VGA and DVI-to-DVI cables are included.

All that's required to hook up this version of the TH2G is a video card that is DVI capable and 3 monitors with DVI inputs. You can still use analog monitors, but that will require 3 VGA-to-DVI adapters. If your video card has a DVI output, but you're still using analog monitors, I would recommend staying with last year's model and use a DVI-to-VGA adapter off of your video card to connect to the VGA input of the analog TH2G.

Installation is "neater" this time as the inputs are on one side of the body and all of the monitor connections are on the other side.

After taking all of the items out of the box, I thought that maybe I received an incomplete package. Where's the installation CD? A note card included in the package says, "If a CD-ROM or documentation weren't provided with your Matrox product, see the Matrox support centre on the Matrox website. There you will find the drivers, user guide, FAQ's, etc..."

In this day and age of information transfer, I liked this idea of putting the required drivers and documentation on the home website. If I had received a CD and paper manual, and updates were released after their manufacture, I'd have to visit the product's web page anyway. This format ensures you have the most up-to-date information available (assuming the company's webmaster is doing their job).

The website drivers also includes the latest configuration files for wide screen monitors (up to 3840 x 1024 resolution) as well as a list of compatible video cards. Most noticeable from last year's list is the addition of the ATI cards. When I took demo TH2G's to our conference last year, Microsoft had to swap out all of their ATI cards for nVidia cards as the TH2G wouldn't work with their latest ATI cards.

The SGU (Surround Gaming Utility) that is pre-programmed with over a hundred game titles is also included on the download page and when installed will automatically detect which compatible games/sims you have installed on your machine. This utility even comes with some new to skins so you can "personalize" your SGU control panel.

The New Technology

Monitor Bezel Management - this feature is new to the Digital TH2G. With three monitors sitting side-by-side, you have two large "frame edges" separating your monitors. What the Bezel Management system does is hide some of the image behind these frames to give your image the appearance of being continuous.

This is particularly noticeable when flying and seeing the horizon in the distance. The horizon lines up continuously along all three monitors instead of being slightly misaligned.
Scenes of the TH2G in action at the 2006 AVSIM Conference
Some wallpapers with digital TH2G

My Only Complaint

Since I have several PC's that I use for business, gaming, and general use, I use a KVM switch. I noticed that at times when I switch between PCs that the TH2G doesn't recognize the "wide screen" settings and I have to go back into the settings page and "refresh" the settings.

I asked Matrox about this, and they said that their box is not designed to be used with a KVM switch. Hopefully, their engineers will work on this for the next iteration of the device.

While this is a minor gripe, the only other option I have is to switch the video output cables between the video cards on the PCs as I switch between them. I'll just continue refreshing my settings, as this doesn't always happen and it beats switching cables.

Summary

Test System

Athlon 64 Dual Core 5000+
2.61 GHz
2GB RAM
Windows XP Pro
nVidia 7600GT 256 MB
Matrox Digital Triplehead2go
3 Acer 19” LCD monitors
3840x1024x32
NaturalPoint TrackIR4Pro
CH Products Yoke
CH Products Pro Pedals
CH Throttle Quadrant

Since using the analog version of this device, I don't know if I could go back to using a single monitor. With the advent of DVI video cards, it was only natural that Matrox would come out with a digital version of the TH2G.

Once you've seen it in action, you'll probably say, "I've got to have one". At least that was the common quote at last year's conference. I can see using this box on a 21" or 24" monitor causing vertigo from some flight maneuvers with that much peripheral vision involved. This puts a whole new connotation on "as real as it gets", if you have to have a "boarding pass" (puke bag) next to your chair when flying. Those who have flown backseat in fighters will know that feeling."

When not flying, I use the multiple applications feature for editing AVSIM reviews and this has increased my productivity time immensely. No more opening and closing windows while cutting and pasting text or editing screenshots.

I've seen other versions of multi-screen set-ups, especially for flight simming, but most of these required multiple monitors as well as multiple PC's. With the price of good monitors dropping on a monthly basis, picking up a digital TH2G for just over $300 is a good investment, in my opinion.

You'll be able to see the Matrox TripleHead2Go in action again at the 2007 AVSIM Conference in Seattle.

 

What I Like About The Matrox Digital Triplehead2go
  • It's still the easiest way to use multiple monitors
  • It's still easy and quick to install.
  • The latest drivers and utilities are available through their homepage
  • Surround Gaming Utility (SGU) recognizes my installed games.
  • Now recognizes ATI cards.

 
What I Don't Like About The Matrox Digital Triplehead2go
  • It doesn't work 100% of the time through my KVM switch.
  • You have to have DVI capable monitors.

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Matrox Triplehead2go

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