Auxiliary Display: more than just demo fodder

Whenever the Auxiliary Display on an Asus laptop makes an entrance, there’s a buzz. I especially love it when people look at this feature as part of a series of fleeting features in a Windows Vista in a dimly lit room, and among is a gaggle of other cool devices… and they remember aux display.

“That was so cool!” was one reaction I heard recently. “I want that now.”

“You’ll have to buy a new laptop to get it. Is it worth it?” I asked the person next to me while standing in a line for something to warm me up.

“Oh yeah… I’ll buy a new laptop when (Windows) Vista comes out. That (auxiliary) display is icing on the cake, or at least the lid.” They then grabbed a frosty-cold one and headed off to see a few demos.

Slated for laptops in the Windows Vista era, aux display it is a very nice feature for taking a quick look at your calendar or firing up Windows Media Player to listen to audio (I’d personally prefer that to having to open the lid on a flight, as with the innovative HP DV1000-type laptops). Makes you wonder why this shouldn’t be a must-have feature on PCs as well, especially those with displays today as on my Windows Media Center PC. 

A note on real-world impact of aux display: I spend my day hopping all over campus and I run into the same situation in almost every meeting: someone waits for their laptop to awake from S3 standby in order to check their calendar (‘Though I’ve found that most people use S4 as the preferred standby state, putting their PCs into a deep sleep between meetings. Many people don’t even open their laptops in meeting for fear that people will think they’re working on email: no, really, I’m taking notes in OneNote.) If there are just 100 meetings a day across our entire company where this scenario plays out for one person in each one, you’re looking at not-so-little cumulative productivity hit of around 400 hours a year. Now, extrapolate that benefit across the laptop market: oodles and oodles of productivity gains, fewer GPRS minutes wasted in syncing your Smartphone, no more printed Outlook calendar pages…

And that’s just the calendar. Imagine being able to see the Outlook notification messages when new mail arrives.

More pre-release info on the aux display platform API is up on MSDN. Bill also mentioned it in his WinHEC keynote earlier this year. And one fun look at one guy who absolutely had to have aux display on his PC today.

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