It might just be that I am getting ahead of the technology here, but with as many people as I've seen in pictures using multiple monitors for music work, I figured I'd have a go at setting it up for myself. I've had mixed results, so I thought I'd ask around here and see if anyone's found some better solutions.
My goal: 3 monitors + tv output. (4 running simultaneously)
First thing I looked at was the Parhelia. That option seems to be stable and usable, but not at the resolutions I am accustom to working at. Across 3 monitors, the max resolution is 1280 x 1024 for each monitor. (so 3840 x 1024 would be the total space.) I work at 1600 x 1200 on each screen, and use that with dual monitors (so 3200 x 1200.) Gaining a 3rd monitor but losing resolution wouldn't really help too much. Additionally, the card is SLOW. There's no getting around it, it's GPU is roughly half the speed of the average Nvidia or ATI.
Is speed a deal-breaker? Not exactly, but games are among my favorite forms of entertainment. We build these beastly powerful systems to run our audio, and I see no reason not to have a separate partition for such things. I mean, strong audio system = awsome gaming system as well, just add the game of your choice and play. And no - it doesn't take anything away from the stability or performance of your DAW - "separate partition." That's an old, old mentality that really has no grounding in the modern world. Your DAW registry won't even know of the existence of the games, and no data is shared between the two partitions. Enough about games. =)
All in all, the Parhelia is also an older card. If I'm gunna spend over $1k for a video monitor solution (card + additional matching monitor + misc expenses), I'd like something that'll be fairly current for the next couple years.
So - I did some internet research (as I don't know any companies that specialize in this - at least probably not for a 1-1.5k budget). I learned that there are a number of folks using an AGP card + a PCI card, each with dual head outputs. Benefits: each card is WAY fast, run 4 monitors at whatever resolutions you feel like, and its about the same price point.
So I ordered some cards, tried different things. I was using an Asus deluxe FX5700 AGP, and a PNY Verto FX5500 PCI. I was using 2 dedicated analogue monitor outputs from the 5700, 1 analogue output for the thrid monitor on the 5500, and an S-Video output for the tv from the 5500. 4 screens, and they all worked! It was cool, but FYI - don't do this expecting to play games across 3 monitors. There might be ways, but suffice to say, the tech just isn't really there yet for such things. Ironically, I hear Parhelias can do that no prob, just without all the fancy DX9 FX and at lower resolutions and poor framerates...
So WinXP has given me a pain-free 4 monitor desktop. Like this:
U want full screen video with no hassle? Run QT or WMPlayer etc and drag the player up to your tv, full-screen the app and it looks fantastic! Plus you can still work on the lower 3 monitors.
Work time. I had a project to complete and it was the 1st opportunity to put the setup to the test. Goal: Run SX2 across the lower 3 monitors, and drag the video preview box up to the tv and run it full screen. This worked GREAT the first time I opened the SX project file and started composing. Fast, easy, and the performance was excellent.
Then I made the mistake of shutting down the system to sleep. The next day, the Video preview window would not display the film. I tried everything. Different drivers caused the PCI card to not even display anything anymore on either monitor or tv. Eventually we found some that would at least turn everything on, and then even got the video back in SX. Except that now SX was crashing left and right. Double clicking on a pparticularmidi clip from a QLSilver patch caused the prog to ddisappear No error, no reboot, just vanish and your looking at your desktop. WWeirdthing is, it was only THAT midi event, lol. The rest opened the event editor as usual.
Anyway, you get the idea. All said and done, I had to disable the PCI video card to continue working on the project. Worked just fine after that. So I finished, and now I just wanna get this setup working somehow. I'll get whatever card/s I need to. If I must go Parhelia, I will, and am considering the Canopus ADVC-100 for video I/O. (think I'll get the ADVC-100 no matter what, actually, as it sounds like it'll make life easier.)
So that's the story, and where Iamb at. Is there ANY other solution? Even suggestions. I'll look into anything right now.
TiA - mike