Matrox TripleHead2Go Digital Edition Page 9

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Bezel Management Problems

In theory, the Bezel Management feature is perfect. Unfortunately, as seems to be the theme with the Matrox TripleHead2Go line, the software handicaps a very nice hardware implementation. There are two major problems:

First, the hotkey doesn’t always work

This seems to depend on what mode (resolution and refresh rate) you are using, and only applies while a 3D application is running. For example, I tried activating bezel management while Lock On: Flaming Cliffs v1.12a was running at 3840×1024 @ 60 Hz. Pressing the bezel management hotkey did nothing. I reassigned the hotkey to two or three different key combinations and still couldn’t get anything to happen. However, if I ALT+TAB to the desktop and press the hotkey, it toggles the bezel management on an off.

I then ran JF-18 at 1920×480 @ 60 Hz (JF-18 doesn’t work well in triplehead, but this resolution is possible for the sim and I wanted to test in a different mode). The bezel management toggled on and off without problems.

Matrox states that toggling bezel management on and off is possible at any time, whether in a game or on the Windows desktop. They caution that the management hotkey should not be assigned in-game to prevent conflicts. While this is a good troubleshooting step, it is not acceptable for full-time use; the TripleHead2Go hardware should be capable of being used in conjunction with any other key assignments (TrackIR does this, with a great implementation of options regarding “trapping” keystrokes or passing them on to the rest of the operating system). No explanation for my difficulties was ever provided by Matrox tech support, and there are other internet accounts of similar problems from other users.

Secondly, activating the Bezel Management hotkey in a single-screen resolution causes a string of error messages

In my testing of Jane’s F-18 at 1920×480, I wanted to make sure I had no other key assigned to the bezel management hotkey. So, I went into the Jane’s F-18 keymapper and pressed the hotkey to select it and make sure any assignments were cleared. The Jane’s F-18 GUI runs at 800×600.

Imagine my surprise when Jane’s F-18 dropped to the desktop and I saw an error message that said “MtxNotSupportedException: Gap Can only be adjusted when current mode is a triple head mode”. So instead of nothing happening in this situation, as it should, your game is interrupted, you are pulled to the desktop, and forced to click OK.

But that’s not the worst part. After you click OK, you are presented with a second error message: “PowerDesk-SE Application has encountered a problem and needs to close.” That’s right, the entire Matrox software crashes when you press the bezel management hotkey while in a single-screen resolution. If bezel management happens to be on when everything goes haywire, you now have no way to turn it off. Thankfully the last thing that could go wrong, PowerDesk SE refusing to start up again, is not a problem; if you start the software again you can disable the bezel management just fine.

This sort of unrefined software behavior is completely unacceptable coming from a major hardware manufacturer. What should be an innocuous key press sets off a string of error messages and crashes software? And sometimes this key press doesn’t even work properly even if it doesn’t crash anything.

Recall that some users resort to a secondary GPU to run three true separate monitors on the Windows desktop. If one does that, the Windows desktop is at a single-screen resolution, and then the option to ALT+TAB out of a game where the Bezel Management hotkey is not working so that the feature can be toggled on the desktop is no longer available.

Conclusion

The Matrox Digital TripleHead2Go represents a significant evolution of the original Analogue device, offering many more modes for triplehead gaming and dualhead laptop use, a fully digital signal path, and bezel management features. However, the associated desktop management software falls short due to its lack of features and glitches.

Lest this review lead one to think that the product is not worth purchasing, make no mistake — it is. Triplehead gaming has to be seen in person to fully appreciate the immersive gameplay and added enjoyment. Much of my excitement over the concept of the TripleHead2Go is proclaimed in SimHQ’s initial review of the Analogue product, and all of that remains as true today as it was in April of last year. However, for a device that will cost a simmer over $300, it is a shame to see the lack of development and troubleshooting that has gone into the TriplHead2Go’s supporting features.

Pros

  • 36 available dualhead and triplehead modes in a variety of resolutions, refresh rates, and aspect ratios.
  • DVI-I outputs for use with LCDs or CRTs
  • Dual-link DVI and VGA inputs for use with desktop or laptop computers
  • Bezel Management feature
  • Works with many popular high-fidelity sims

Cons

  • Poor desktop management software
  • Bugs in the bezel management software
  • Price
  • No support for 5040×1050 and 4320×900

The Digital TripleHead2Go is currently available for purchase.

Reviewer’s System Specs

  • AMD Opteron 148 overclocked to 2.85GHz
  • 2048MB of PC3200 DDR RAM
  • 256MB 7900GT
  • Asrock 939Dual-SATA2 motherboard
  • 2 x 36GB WD Raptor RAID 0 array
  • Audigy2 ZS sound card
  • DirectX 9.0c
  • Windows XP Home with SP2
  • TrackIR 4 Pro

 


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