[Update] Please note that this review is based on version one of the software – an update was released this week which we will evaluate in a future article.
Now that we have !DualHead installed it is time to experiment with the world of dual head RISC OS desktops.
You now have one very large desktop and the ability to select screen modes to give you a very workable screen area. I have two 27inch monitors this gives me 3840 x 1200 resolution.
With 2 screens, you will have to experiment with how you want to position them. I find that my 27 inch monitors are too wide to put flat side by side without giving neck strain. Most people either tilt the 2 screens together in a V shape (as in the picture above) or have one screen at an angle to the main screen. On my Mac I generally prefer the second option with a ‘main’ screen directly infront of me and an angled second screen to the left, where I ‘park’ windows not currently in use.
R-Comp are very clear that dual head display is a work in progress. The !DualHead application is polished and runs well but does impose a number of restrictions on current use.
Firstly, I found I could not change the layout. My right hand monitor is always plugged into the second port (right port on the back of the machine looking at it from the back).
There are also different ways to handle multiscreens. On my Mac, the screens can also be separate displays (with a separate task bar on each) and you can arrange one screen under the other. On RISC OS, we have a single screen which is extended across multiple monitors. There are pros and cons to both.
!DualHead also requires the screens to run at the same resolution. You can run two different sized monitors. I tried replacing one of my 27inch monitors with an old 20inch monitor. This requires both monitors to run at the same resolution of 1600 x 1200. The results look stretched on one screen.
Different size monitors are an issue with all dual display systems. On my Mac I always use 2 identical 27 inch monitors. Moving screens between different resolutions is not ideal as you have to keep resizing them.
Quibbles aside, !DualHead is a really nice release and brings RISC OS firmly into the world of dual screen output. It will also allow developers to start adapting their software to make use of it. I tried !Paint and as expected a screenshot of the whole screen creates a sprite containing both displays.
This is an excellent first release (following on the heels of 5.23 RISC OS release) and I look forward to seeing what R-Comp have for us at the London Show…