Netbook Tip — Drive a High Resolution Monitor



Steve Rubel and I have been chatting quite a bit lately about netbooks. Steve is a “cloud guy” like me — he constantly uses web-based services and applications in lieu of software clients. For folks like us, devices such as the netbook and smartphone are our best friends.

Earlier today, Steve was asking me if I could drive an external monitor from my new Toshiba NB205. More importantly, he asks what resolution and color depth is supported. Although I use my netbook more on the go than in my home office, I explained to Steve that the ol’ VGA port on most netbooks might look paltry compared to today’s DVI and HDMI outputs, but don’t be deceived. Since the majority of netbooks run the Intel GMA 950 chipset, you can actually pump a resolution 2048×1536 at 32-bit color from that little netbook! In the above picture, I’m using the Toshiba NB205 on my external monitor at its native resolution of 1920×1200. There’s plenty of room for multiple browser windows, and of course, I have several tabs going in each.

Now this situation still isn’t ideal for video intensive gaming or enjoying high-definition movies. But from a productivity standpoint, it works extremely well. And if you don’t want to use the smaller keyboard and trackpad of a netbook in a case like this, it’s simple to add a wireless keyboard and mouse. The NB205 model I bought supports Bluetooth — the less expensive models don’t — so I have the option.

We tout the mobility of these little laptops all the time. But there’s something to be said for the immobile benefits as well. Why constrain yourself to a 10″ display at 1024×600 if you’re sitting still and have an external monitor to use?



I have a nb205 but when i connect an external monitor its max resolution is 1024X600. It looks aweful on a 22″ wide screen, VGS out. Am i missing something? do i need a driver or something? thanks


i have nb200 10z and i want to buy an external monitor 21-22”..
what resolution could i have my netbook ?

”’isn’t ideal for video intensive gaming or enjoying high-definition movies.”’

all i do is surfing and watching Divx sometimes.. .would i have troubles with it ?

Thank you..


Bo, Kevin, I have had the same problem when setting display (Fn + F5) for external monitor only. Works fine for a bit, then grays out, although sound continues. I have to reboot to get external monitor to work. All I’ve been able to do is to set Fn+F5 for dual display, and then it displays fine on both screens, but with the additional power consumption. Any thoughts?


Thanks for the great post on the Toshiba NB 205. I also just purchased one of these cool little netbooks for my lovely wife. I’m also running a 21″ external monitor and it works great except for one little problem. When I try to configure the monitor using Windows Display Properties, I can’t make the external monitor the “primary monitor.” Under Display Properties / Settings, I check the box to make Monitor #2 the primary monitor and and Monitor #2 “grays out” and turns off. Has anyone experienced the same issue and found a resolution?

Kevin C. Tofel

Bo, are you first hitting FN+F5 on your keyboard to enable display output to both the netbook LCD and an external monitor? Once you do that, you should see the same image on both. From there, the Display Properties should work. I’m running Win7 right now so I can’t verify for sure, but if you need me to I can reboot into XP to ensure the info is accurate.


Great stuff Kevin – I’m actually working on a piece on my blog right now that includes what you’ve done above. Connecting one monitor like that is great, but connecting two makes for an uncompromising desktop experience.


Running a NB205 with two external 19″ monitors using a Toshiba unidock. This gives me three screens.


I’ve got the same monitor as my second display for my x200 tablet docked. It’s an awesome set up to have mobility and a nice productive desktop like experence to sit down to.

borax99 (Alain)

Fun post, wouldja believe from time to time I do the same thing with my Viliv S5 – best of both worlds !

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