Before buying this product I read all of the reviews. Nervous about getting this device for my Mac Mini I dove in and ordered it. It came in a timely manner. It is small. Great. It is easy to set up, just plug it in. Great. But when I turned my monitor on. Nothing. Yikes.... Another Mac person who bought this product warned that there were not any MAC drivers on the CD that came with the device, or on the Diamond website. Check. He is right. That is still true as of this review (9-30-10). But being like a pit bull with the Internet, I knew I could probably figure it out which is why I ordered it anyway. I figured I would give it a try being somewhat optimistic in general.
The other reviewer was definitely correct. BUT..... here is the great news! when I opened the device I noticed that printed directly on the device was the company name "Display Link." Aha! They might have the drivers. Sure enough. The drivers were there on their website. Here is the url for the MAC drivers: [...] I downloaded it and voila! My monitor came on. I was thrilled. So alas, like many new devices these days the hardware company makes one thing, and the software is developed by another company. So wonderful Mac User, don't despair. The product is there. Its a great little product. Without the USB adapter there would be no way I could run two screens on my mac mini. My mini is about 3 years old so it only has one port for a monitor. I use the screens for Pro Tools and recording music in my home studio and the device is working great!!! Good luck!
on November 23, 2009
ADDENDUM, 8 months after initial purchase. Not sure I can recommend this as highly as before. I still use two of these on a daily basis, to create the 3-screen display described below. But I've noticed that the screens will sometimes give a big blink, go black for a few seconds and when they recover, several things will go haywire: Resolution becomes wrong, portrait/landscape setting is wrong, and the desktop icons will resort themeselves into nonsensical locations. Usually I can just restart the computer and everything will recover, but not always. I think it's a hardware/software conflict - I believe the Nvidia video controller built into my motherboard is trying to get control of the USB displays, and this seems to mess things up. You may not have the same issue. The restart-fixable fault occurs about every 8 days, whereas the major fault where everything gets fouled up occurs about every 2 months. And one other fault - sometimes one of the screens will suddenly begin to display a series of primary colors, blinking red-green-blue forever until I turn that monitor off and on again. By the way, I do have the latest video drivers loaded for all devices.
ORIGINAL REVIEW: A little background and history: My stock trading multi-monitor setup has 3 monitors: the center 24" widescreen monitor is 1920x1200, and the secondary monitors on either side are 19" widescreens (1440x900). One of the side monitors is rotated +90 degrees and the other rotated -90 degrees to portrait mode. My desktop PC had a built-in video driver. In my first attempt to build a triple monitor system, I naively installed a dual output ATI video card, thinking I could use those two outputs in conjunction with my existing internal video to acheive a triple monitor output. I was disappointed to discover that the ATI card disabled the internal video card, so I was left with a dual monitor system. I lived with that for a while, but found that the ATI card frequently "forgot" which monitor was the primary monitor, "forgot" that one monitor was rotated to portrait mode, and even "forgot" that there were two monitors. I would turn on the PC to discover that the primary monitor display was rotated 90 degrees and the secondary monitor had no display, so I would have to tilt my head sideways while I tried to reset all the parameters to my preferred settings. The saved settings file seemed very unreliable.
Still wanting 3 displays, I finally ponied up almost $800 for a Matrox quad monitor display card. What a disaster. The available resolution settings did not accomodate widescreens, and certainly did not accomodate having one or more screens rotated. Each pair of the four outputs had to be the same resolution, and you could not control placement of the primary screen between the secondary screens, in terms of the mouse movement.
As I continued to research multi-monitor displays, I finally discovered USB multimonitor display adaptors. I purchased the Diamond BVU195 rather than some less expensive alternatives for several reasons: It supported a higher resolution than many other products, and it offered Vista compatibility. (The cheaper Diamond BVU160 is identical in every specification except is not certified for Vista and Windows 7. I do wonder if this is an artificial price difference. If anybody has successfully installed the BVU160 on a Vista system, I'd like to hear about it. The BVU195 Vista driver is available as a free download from the Diamond website, and I have a suspicion that you may be able to purchase the cheaper BVU160 hardware and download the BVU195 Vista driver for it. However, I HAVE NOT TESTED THIS, so it's buyer beware if you attempt this.)
Anyway, I bought two of the BVU195 and installed them in my desktop, to drive the smaller secondary displays that sit right and left of my primary display. My primary display is driven by the video built into my desktop, while the secondary displays are driven by the two BVU195 plugged into two USB ports. Installation and setup was far easier and faster than with the earlier ATI and Matrox experiments. The BVU195 coexists perfectly with the pre-existing on-board video driver. I was very pleased to discover that I can independantly and easily control the resolution, rotation, and placement of each secondary monitor in relation to the primary monitor. If I want, I can place the secondary monitors above or below the primary monitor, or both on one side, and the mouse arrow will flow from one screen to the next in the expected fashion.
I was so pleased by the experience that I gave a presentation on this setup to my local stock trading Meetup group. I was able to easily demonstrate setting up the multi-monitor display on a PC desktop, a PC laptop, and a Macintosh laptop. At one point of the presentation, I was driving a 46" LCD TV at 1900x1080p, a 24" monitor at 1920x1200, and a 19" monitor in portrait mode at 900x1440. Since then, two other traders in the group have purchased the BVU195 for use in a dual monitor PC system and a MacIntosh triple monitor system. Neither of those traders is "computer savvy," but they had no problems installing and configuring the BVU195.
The BVU195 video driver operates under the DisplayLink specification, which allows a maximum of 6 USB video drivers to be attached to your system. If your existing system has a single output video card built in, then the maximum total number of displays is 7. Most laptops have a built-in dual video driver, so with a laptop you will probably have a maximum of 8 displays possible. However, driving that many displays with a laptop, I'd recommend a USB expansion hub with independant power supply to drive that many BVU195s. I haven't tested the BVU195 when driven through a USB expansion hub, but I'd anticipate no problem.
I'm very pleased that I can easily expand the system to more and more monitors over time.
One limitation of any USB video driver is the speed and graphics processing power is not suitable for high-end gaming. USB video drivers such as the BVU195 do not contain an independant graphics processor nor an independant graphics memory cache. Therefore, it does not do a good job rendering textures and rapid movement in some video games. It's also not recommended for watching movies from DVD, particularly Blu-Ray.
My only negative comment about the BVU195: I've noticed that about every 30 to 45 minutes, the screens driven by the BVU195 will momentarily go blank for about 1 second. My two stock trading friends with the same device are reporting the same behavior on PCs and MacIntosh. In my house, I've had the BVU195 plugged into 3 different computers, one of which is XP based while the other two are Vista, and I see the same occasional blinking on all monitors driven by the BVU195, regardless of the computer or operating system, so I would assume this behavior is common to all installations. It's not an important negative issue for me, but I see other reviewers have reported the same behavior, so you should expect it also in your system. Another fault that occurs about once per week: One of the monitors will begin to display a solid color screen, changing from red to green to blue about one second for each color and continuing to do so, until I turn the monitor off and back on again. Again, it happens so seldom that it has not affected my usage of the BVU195, but it's definitely something to be aware of in making your choice. I havn't seen this particular bug reported by other reviewers.
It's only those three bugs: blinking off, blinking through colors and lack of gaming speed that causes me to give this product a 3 for performance. However, for applications like stock trading that have relatively slow changing displays using primary colors (no textures) I think the BVU195 is really a great solution because it's expandable, configurable, reliable, easy to use, easy to install and coexists with pre-existing video hardware. It's most important feature to me is the ability to independantly configure every individual monitor.
If you choose one of the less expensive USB multi-monitor drivers that are available, just make sure it meets your requirements for operating system and maximum resolution. Those particular specifications seem to be a determining factor of price.
on August 22, 2010
The fix, suggested to me by the manufacturer, consists of turning off automatic graphics switching on the newer MBP models. This option is found under SYSTEM PREFERENCES > ENERGY SAVER > AUTOMATIC GRAPHICS SWITCHING. Uncheck the box (at the top left of the window) to turn this feature off. You will consume more battery power, but the computer will be stable using this USB video adapter. I haven't tried running the beta driver from Diamond, etc...
This solution works, but I don't like the lack of support from Diamond. Best of luck.
I just spent my entire weekend trying to fix a disaster caused by the Diamond BVU195 and/or the DisplayLink software. I had been running one 24" Dell external monitor at my desk from the mini-display port, but I wanted a second external monitor. I went ahead and purchased everything I needed -- a dual arm mount and another 24" Dell, along with the Diamond BVU195.
I should mention that I'm running all this on a very new, mid-2010 model MacBook Pro with 10.6.4 and the recent (8/20/2010) graphics update.
After installing everything ran smoothly on the dual external monitors. It was very nice to have the additional screen space to work with. Leaving that evening, I put my computer to sleep, disconnected the cables, packed it up, and went home. The next morning, I was using my MBP at home without any external monitors. Everything seemed to be working fine for a number of hours.
However, while quitting out of a program, the screen went black, and then became stuck on a snow pattern (after restart, it was locked on a light blue screen similar to the screen seen during start-up). I cursed, fiddled, called apple care, and essentially did everything I could think. In the end, I made an appointment at the Genius Bar for help. I worked with a pretty smart guy for the better part of an hour. We discovered that, on restart, when the screen locks blue, doing a "blind logoout" ("Control-Shift-Q," then "Return" -- blind because you can't see what you're doing) will bring you to the login screen. Everything worked after this except the screen would lock blue on start-up. So, in order to make my MBP work properly, all I had to do was start up, wait for the screen to lock blue, Control-Shift-Q, hit return, and re-log in. For some reason, this bypassed whatever was causing the screen to lock up.
The genius bar guy's suggestion was that I restore my system from a time machine back-up. So, I spent my entire evening and all of last night driving to my office, getting the system restore discs and my time machine drive, and restoring from a time machine backup. I selected the most recent time machine backup prior to the crash -- as suggested by the genius bar buy. Because everything had worked fine between installation of the DisplayLink driver and the graphics crash, neither of us thought (naive in hindsight) that the DisplayLink software could have had anything to do with it...
On restart after the restore had finished, I was still having the same problem. After reading a recent comment to an article on the-gadgeteer titled "Diamond USB Display Adapter Pro Review" (this: [...]), I immediately uninstalled the DisplayLink software. It looks like that solved the problem.
Apparently, there is a fatal conflict between the new graphics-switching routine on the new Core i5 and i7 MacBook Pros and the DisplayLink driver software, resulting in a very frustrating graphics crash. Diamond/DisplayLink seem to acknowledge an issue ([...]), but their sole fix is to suggest you disable automatic graphics switching, which isn't really a solution.
I absolutely would not recommend this product.
on July 21, 2010
As of this writing, the displaylink driver required to use this device in OS X (snow leopard) does not work with the 2010 macbook pro. This problem appears to be related to the automatic GPU switching technology in the new macbook pros. What happens is that the adapter will work fine until you restart without an external monitor attached. If the dock was assigned to any monitor except the laptop's main display, at restart the display becomes scrambled. The only way to resolve it is to boot up in safe mode (hold down the shift key after the startup tone) and uninstall the driver. If the system was shut down with the dock assigned to the main laptop's display, the next time the machine is restarted without the external display there is still some strange behavior. This behavior involves a brief flickering in the screen each time the system switches graphics mode, and the inability to change your wallpaper (which is really strange!). The bottom line is that the drivers aren't working for the 2010 macbook pros.
The displaylink forum is currently very active with people complaining about the apparent lack of effort put forth by displaylink to resolve this problem. This may or may not be a valid gripe, but what is for certain is that displaylink has not been actively communicating in forums regarding this issue. The only real solution is to install the drivers when you want to use the usb adapter (which requires a reboot) and uninstall them before you restart without the adapter attached. This is not an acceptable solution.
I would not recommend this product for OS X users on the 2010 macbook pro until the drivers are fixed. When (or if) the driver issues are resolved, I'll post an update.
-- 2/11/11 Update --
According to the Displaylink Mac forum, DisplayLink is working on refresh of the Mac driver. The ETA is supposed to be sometime in the next 6+ months. So, bottom line is that there is still not a good driver, but that may change later this year. I'll try to update this review when (or if) it is released.
-- 8/12/11 Update --
Good news! Since the last post I've upgraded my 2010 MacBook Pro to Lion. I also decided to try out the newest displaylink driver (1.7 beta 3). I was pleasantly surprised that it worked! No problems at all. I can no longer recreate the "scrambled" screen that I was seeing previously. I've upgraded my rating from 2 to 4 stars. I docked the product 1 star for having a poor OS X driver when I originally purchased it.
on January 25, 2012
If anyone who is intending to buy this product interviewed me, this is how it would go:
You: What did you buy this adapter for?
Me: I wanted to run an additional monitor with my mac book pro in clamshell mode at work. Now, I have two 23" monitors connected to it.
You: Did it help you?
You: Where did you download the drivers for mac?
Me: Display Link website.
You: How would you rate the performance?
Me: Average considering I'm running a core i7.
You: Why do say 'considering I'm running core i7'?
Me: OK, I have to throw a little tech stuff here - This is a usb video adapter. Video is always processor hungry and hence the buzz around GPUs. (Do I see a perplexed look on your face? Oh! GPU is Graphics Processing Unit.) Now, this is no GPU card. Simply put, it relies on your processor to do whatever it is supposed to do with the video and send it out through the USB to the monitor at the end of it. The better the processor you have the better the video performance.
You: Are you able to run videos through this card?
Me: Yes. Not as smooth as the display connected to display port.
You: How about Mission Control/Expose?
Me: Bearable. It not as smooth as I want it to be. But, I can live with it.
You: How about moving a window on the screen?
Me: Again, not as smooth as I would expect.
You: You mentioned 'clamshell mode' when we started talking. How is it working out for you?
Me: Not that great! :( Let me explain. This card uses the processor a lot more than the on-board display port, my mac runs a lot hotter than usual. So, I ditched the plan to run in clamshell mode.
You: Would you recommend this product to mac users trying to run in clamshell mode?
You: If you are not running clamshell mode, how are you using it effectively?
Me: I have my mac configured for three displays - 1) Display Port, 2) Diamond Adapter 3) MacBook Pro screen. I wake the computer from sleep, login (very important!!), connect the display port display and the diamond display adapter. I have the wireless apple keyboard and magic touch pad - the F1 and F2 keys allow me to control the brightness of my mac book pro screen. I kill the light on the mac book pro using F1 and leave the mac book pro half closed. This leaves enough room for the heat generated by the processor to dissipate. When I call it a day, I disconnect the USB adapter and the display port and sleep the mac. This helps avoiding any lock up problems.
You: You seem to have mastered the art around making this adapter work for you?
Me: Well, I was up against a wall with no other choice! I simply changed they way I start and end work to accommodate this adapter.
You: Any other recommendations?
Me: One more thing I usually do is, when I know I'm going to be gone for a while (say lunch) and have to leave the mac working on something, I disconnect (unplug) the Diamond Adapter. It spikes the CPU even if you are not at the computer. All it takes is some change on the screen, which needs re-painting the display. So an open browser window or your email client will heat up your laptop and spin up the fan.
You: Thank you for taking time to talk to me. :)
Me: You are welcome! :)
Me: And, BTW, I think the same is true for all adapters that use displaylink chips.
on May 25, 2011
After having various PC laptops die once a year for the last 10 years, I finally made the shift from PC to Mac. I did a lot of research before committing and my final sticking point was how to get my dual monitors running on Mac. I went in to an Apple store and was surprised to discover that they had no "Apple Approved" products that would do the job. When prompted for after market products that are not made by Apple, the staff informed me that they're not allowed to recommend any non-Apple products and thus they could tell me nothing more! I did some more online research and heard of 2 products that might do the job. This being one of them. I went to Apple.com and initiated a chat session with sales to find out what they thought of the BVU195 and was again stonewalled as it is not an Apple product. They basically said, "we have no solution for you and we can make no other recommendations. You can not get dual monitors working with the MacBook Pro." Whatever!
So, after reading a bunch of reviews from other users, I decided to get the Mac and give the BVU195 a go. I plugged the USB cable in to see if it would work on its own, but no such luck. And just like everyone else says here, no Mac drivers are included in the box. The Diamond website offers a link to the drivers, but they're in .exe format...which Macs can't open! So, I then did a search on Google for the SW creator "displaylink" and was glad to see that "Mac Software" was one of the choices straight from Google. I clicked on it, downloaded the driver and let it restart my computer when it was done installing.
Upon restarting, both of my monitors worked perfectly! One via the Diamond USB display adapter and and one via a Mini DisplayPort to DVI-I Female Adapter for Mac (which sells for 27 cents here on Amazon). With the MacBook Pro laptop open, I had 3 full screens running. I closed the lid and let it all go to sleep. I then moved my fingers over the wireless trackpad I bought and it started up perfectly. Now I've got 2 independent monitors going, just like how I had it on my PC :-)
I haven't had to adjust the Energy Saver mode within System Preferences yet (as another reviewer recommended), but will update my review if it does indeed become necessary.
on May 24, 2012
I read about this Display adapter while trying to find a solution to extending my displays. I was firstly very excited to find out it was possible and when I read all the positive feedback the choice was easy. The rebate was the icing on the cake :)
In extending my displays saving on a monitor upgrade and ended up with more real estate. I also personally feel it's easier to organize individual displays.
I picked up a nice 20" Dell Ultrasharp for $30- that I have rotated on its side (there is a sneaky preference to enable this in system prefs) to go along side my 22" Samsung SyncMaster 226BW Samsung SyncMaster 226BW 22-inch LCD Monitor. Once rotated the 20" Dell is a little deeper than the 22" Samsung. To the right of that is my Power book Pro Apple MacBook Pro MB134LL/A 15.4-inch Laptop (OLD VERSION) which is up on the older perspex iCurve - I think this is the best Laptop Stand ever made, nothing compares. The Samsung now uses the Macbook's DVI and the Dell uses the Diamond Display Adaptor DVI to adaptor then to USB hub.
I mounted both the monitors on the wall 13" To 32" Cantilever And Articulating 3-In-1 Flat Panel Mount Vesa 75/100/200Mm Compatible, plugged everything in and then downloaded the OSX driver for the DIAMOND (after a quick google search) restarted and then voila!
I personally can't see any image degradation and am very happy with this solution.
on January 8, 2012
I bought this to add a third monitor to my Dell SX8100 i7 Windows 7 setup. I hooked up the adapter first with the (very short) USB cable provided. Then I hooked up the newly added monitor. Automatically the Win 7 drivers were downloaded and set the attached monitor to its native resolution. Excellent. I only had to right click on the desktop and then: personalize-display-change display settings, to set up the order I wanted the monitors to be called and set all to "extend the desktop". The transition of the mouse from monitor-to-monitor-to monitor is seemless and fast. No lagging problems like I expected. I day trade stocks so this is important. Also no blinking or temp blackouts as others have mentioned. I drag color, full screen Java charts from monitor to monitor with no problems. I tried switching the Diamond adapter to both a 20" and 23" LG monitor. The 20" set itself to 1600 X 900 and the 23" to 1920 X 1080 as ideal and correct.
I have identical 23" HD LED LG monitors and critically compared the one connected to the inboard ATI Radeon 5780 HD card to the one with the Diamond BVU195 adapter and I see no differences whatsoever in detail or color using higher resolution downloads. I will repost if problems develop later, but for now this has been an excellent purchase and no-brainer install, and I'm no expert either. The $20 rebate makes it sweeter. Thanks Amazon. For now, Highly recommended! I'm thinking of adding yet another monitor & adapter this works so well. Can't see how I ever got by without it. **Update 4-16** After 3 mos of daily use I've had no problems with lagging , moving from screen-screen, or periodic blackouts. AAA+++.
I recently purchased a larger external monitor for my MacBook Pro, so I had an "extra" 19" LCD monitor sitting around. Talking with my son, I told him I'd like to be able to hook up this old monitor, but my MBP only has one video out. He mentioned a friend of his uses the Diamond USB video device with his MacBook Pro and has had good luck with it, so I ordered one on the spot from Amazon.
Upon arrival I noted that the included driver software didn't include drivers for Mac OS 10.6, although the packaging said "Apple OS X: Tiger 10.4.11, Leopard 10.5.6 (Intel-based Apple computers)". Diamond's web site has a driver download that claims to be for everything from Windows Vista to Mac OS X, however this is a .zip file and is unreadable by my MBP. Do your own Google search on "diamond usb video adaptor mac OS x driver 10.6 display link" and you'll get to the proper page (why doesn't Amazon allow us to embed URL's in our posts? What is this, 1995?).
Once I had the driver installed, I plugged in the provided cable, the adaptor and my old LCD monitor, and things sprang to life - just like that. I went into Display Preferences to set up the monitor arrangement, and had my MBP and two external monitors working.
One thing of note - I am a professional photographer, and color accuracy is important to me. I calibrate my monitors on a regular basis with a hardware/software tool from X-Rite, however the display hooked up through this Diamond Display Link product does not seem to respond to any calibration, including simply using the OSD (on screen display) of the monitor. No matter what I do, the monitor has a magenta cast. No big deal, as I mostly use the USB monitor to display my email client, but those of you looking for photo-quality output will absolutely be disappointed.
I had also read that external monitors run through USB adaptors like this are slow to respond to dynamically-changing source like video or gaming. I've tried running 720p YouTube videos and they look pretty good, though there is a very slight lag. Again, since this isn't my primary (or even secondary) monitor, this isn't a big deal.
Easy to set up (once you find and install the proper Mac OS X drivers)
Works plug and play
Comes with all required cables
USB monitor fairly responsive
Color accuracy is non-existent
A little slow responding to some video
Overall this is a well executed and reasonably priced product that does exactly what it is supposed to do. I recommend it.
on December 20, 2011
UPDATE: Do not buy this product if you run Mountain Lion, or plan to upgrade some day (pretty much every Mac user). People have been asking for months on their support site for a driver, and so far there's been no update. If I still had all the packaging I'd probably return this product. Until then, it's just a brick on my bookshelf.
There's always going to be a limit to what any USB adapter can do, and this one is no different. It's a bit laggy, particularly when dragging large windows around, and I certainly wouldn't play a game on it.
However, generally speaking it works very well, and even performs faster than I had expected in some uses, like scrolling Web pages. Given that I'm on a MacBook Pro now and my multi-display options are limited, this is a great solution at a great price to get me that third screen. I now drive a pair of Gateway 23" monitors, one from this adapter and one from the built-in mini-DisplayPort, at 1920x1200, plus the laptop's internal display making up the third option.
Previous comments about Mac support carry here. The drivers that come with the device are useless, and although BVI's Web site mentions Mac OS as supported in their downloadable driver pack, the download doesn't actually contain any Mac drivers. To get this to work on a Mac you need to go to DisplayLink.com's Web site directly, click Support, then click Mac Downloads: