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home : reviews : RADEON 7500 : page 2

Benjamin Sun
February 27, 2002

The first card to offer multi-monitor support in a consumer graphics card made by ATI was the RADEON VE. Arriving at a low price of $99, the VE was a severely cut down version of the RADEON. ATI removed one of the 2 pixel pipelines and the Hardware T+L unit of the regular RADEON core but added Hydravision to allow 2 monitor support.

ATI bought Appian Corporation, which developed their multi-monitor software, Hydravision, early in 2001. They immediately added the support for multiple monitors to all of their products on their roadmap. The latest generation of ATI cards, the 7200, 7500, 8500, and 8500DV all support multiple displays. Note the 8500DV does not support 2 CRT displays, but it does support CRT or DVI + TV Out support.

So what can Hydravision do? The first thing it allows is more room to work with. The biggest common monitor today has a 21 inch diagonal display with around 212 square inches of viewable space. Two 17 inch monitors, on the other hand, will give you 278 square inches of viewable display area. Today a 17 inch monitor can retail for under $150 while a 21 inch monitor can run in the $400-500 range at the lowest. This is also true of any other dual monitor graphics card, such as the Matrox G550 or the GeForce2 MX.

Hydravision adds 2 buttons to every application. The first shaped like a arrow pointing down, allows you to set Hydravision settings with a click of the mouse. The second maximizes the application to fill the given display. Hydravision also allows the user to load up to 9 virtual desktops which can be controlled by the Desktop Management applet.

Dual Monitor Configurations
CRT (single monitor)
Digital Flat Panel (LCD)
TV+CRT (TV-Out+ Monitor)
CRT+DFP (Monitor+ LCD)
CRT+CRT (Monitor+ Monitor)
CRT+DFP+TV (Monitor+ LCD+TV-Out)

Hydravision Multi-Monitor Features
Multi-Desk: ATI's multiple desktop utility. Arrange up to 9 active desktops and cycle through them with a single mouse click or Hot Key. Even when doubling you monitor real estate with multiple monitors end users may want to keep their current applications running while opening even more applications. Multi-Desk would free the end-users' desktop space and allow them to run their application with considerably less confusion and more organization.

Hot Keys:
Perform tasks with a single keystroke. A single keystroke can eliminate tedious tasks such as opening applications, moving applications from monitor to monitor.
  • Run Application Hot Key: You can set a Hot Key to run any application on your system (.exe) file
  • Snap App to Monitor Hot Key: Set a hot key to snap the active window to the alternate monitor. If an application is already maximized on one monitor, you would have to click on the restore button, then click and drag one application to the other monitor, and finally maximize the application if you want it in full screen mode. This hot key will perform that task in a single keystroke.
Application Position Memory: Allows your PC to remember the last position, display, and size of a particular application the last time it was closed. This eliminates the need to reposition all applications to their preferred display and position each and every time that you open them.

Maximize to Full Desktop: Given that you have set HYDRAVISION to maximize applications to the full desktop (i.e. across monitor splits) you simply click on the HYDRAVISION Max/Restore button to expand the application across the desktop. Applications requiring more visual real estate (i.e., spreadsheet applications) will now be given twice the area.

Dialog Box Repositioning: Controls the behavior of dialog boxes. Allows one to avoid viewing dialog boxes across monitor splits and permits the end-user to choose the placement of dialog boxes.

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