Use your PDA as a Monitor!

Sidewindow Settings Dialog

To me, buying a PDA is like casual dating. At first, I can’t wait for my new PDA to arrive. Then when I get it, I am sure that this is the one I’m going to keep using and its going to make my life simpler. Then in 2 or 3 months, I stop using it for most tasks and it becomes an expensive MP3/video player. Until I find a newer model.

I’ve gone through about half a dozen PDAs of varying power culminating with my current unit, a Dell Axim X50v. It sits under my desk charging, and since my GPS now plays videos and MP3, is rarely undocked. There is software at that allows you to use your device as a second (or third) monitor. That’s right — you can have a tiny little monitor on your desk when you aren’t using the PDA for something else. The software makes Windows use it just like any other monitor.

First of all, the whole idea is cool and the geek factor of having your Windows desktop extend onto your PDA is way high. However, I’d suggest you get the 14 day trail version (the full version costs about US$15.00). Because while the geek/cool factor is high, for me the usability factor was low.

The installation of the PDA software was straightforward — you don’t install anything on the PDA itself. However, I was surprised that the screen the Sidewindow driver emulates is always at 1280×1024. Of course, your PDA doesn’t have that kind of resolution (does it?) so the software emulates the screen size. You can then pick a viewing window from 768×1024 to 240×480. This means you either have a tiny view on giant windows or a reasonable view on tiny windows. You can switch to landscape if you have a way to dock the PDA so that it makes sense (you can also connect to the PDA via WiFi, so maybe dock isn’t the right word here, but have some way to put the PDA in a landscape orientation).

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