Switch It!

Les Ellingham checks the cost of keeping two monitors hooked up

 

Issue 32

Mar/Apr 88

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When the ST first appeared, most users bought a mono monitor and used an existing colour monitor or also bought one of the Atari colour monitors. Other users went the other way purchasing a mono monitor later but whatever the combination there was one great bugbear which was that you had to continually unplug and plug in each monitor as required. As well as being quite tedious it hardly did the monitor socket on the ST any good.


This situation continued for an unbelievably long time with only a couple of 'home made' switching devices available at high cost, but now there are several monitor switches readily available to enable you to leave both monitors hooked up and change between the two at the flick of a switch or push of a button. We have had two of these on test for a couple of months.


THE LOW COST SWITCH


The first is made by Lindy Computer and is available from Frontier Software at a cost of 19.95. It consists of a small black box 3" by 2" and 1" high which can be fairly unobtrusively tucked away behind your ST. In fact this is probably the only place for it as the cable supplied is only 8" long! The cables from your mono and colour monitors plug into the opposite side of the box to the fixed cable and a small switch mounted on top allows you to switch between monitors. Note that, as with other switches or when unplugging the monitor cable, the ST will reboot when monitors are switched.


THE POSH ALTERNATIVE


If you are willing to pay out a bit more for the luxury of a monitor switch then you might like to try the Monitor Master available from Shacksoft for 35.00. This is altogether a much more sophisticated unit although it does exactly the same job as the Lindy switchbox. The box is in matching ST grey and measures 4k" by 3" and is 11" high. It is designed to sit either beside your ST or alongside the monitor and has a fairly generous and quite substantial cable over 2 feet long! It is also mounted on four rubber feet to protect your furniture. All cables are connected at the back of the unit and switching is achieved by a push button on the front. When pushed in the colour monitor is engaged and when pushed again the mono monitor is used. The ST will reboot as stated earlier.


A COMMON PROBLEM


Both switches work well but strangely both have the same `bug' which means that you cannot leave your colour monitor switched on at the same time as the mono monitor. Well, you can, but both switches continue to feed a signal to the colour monitor when the mono is engaged resulting in a most annoying buzzing being emitted from the speaker of the colour monitor. I cannot understand why all lines could not be switched. Both units probably use the same switch inside and the manufacturer seems to have taken the cheap and easy way out, as is all too common nowadays.


 

 

WHICH ONE?


They both work well and either can be recommended provided that you don't mind switching off the colour monitor whilst using the mono. I personally prefer the Monitor Master because it is more flexible due to the longer cable and more stylish overall, but you may not consider that worth an extra 15.


These units can probably be obtained from your local dealer. If not Frontier Software can be contacted at P.O. Box 113, Harrogate, N. Yorks, HG2 OBE. Tel. 0423 67140 and Shacksoft are at Unit 9, Ascot Court, White Horse Business Park Trowbridge, Wilts. Tel. 02214 3502

 

 

 

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