We've long been fans of DisplayLink's video-over-USB chips, which appear in products such as the ThinkPad LT1421 portable USB monitor and Targus ACP71 dual-monitor laptop dock. Now at IDF13, the company is taking its technology to the next level, showcasing a number of prototype products: a next-generation dock that outputs 4K video over a single USB connection, a wireless dock that can control two monitors over 802.11ac Wi-Fi and USB display solutions for Chromebooks and Android phones. We got to spend some time playing with the technology and came away impressed.
4K Video Over USB
The company had a typical Toshiba laptop connected to a dock which was connected to an ASUS 4K monitor playing a nature video. The stream was flawlessly smooth, and a DisplayLink rep said it worked over USB 2 as well as USB 3.
A number of laptops today already come with 802.11ac Wi-Fi installed and that number is growing. DisplayLink showed an ASUS gaming notebook with 802.11ac wirelessly connecting to a dock which had Ethernet, USB and two full HD monitors connected. A DisplayLink rep was able to move the laptop several feet away from the table and continue controlling the content on the monitors.
Chromebook Video Out
Windows and Mac OS X users have been able to use DisplayLink-powered products for years, but Google's Chrome OS still doesn't support its technology. The company displayed a Chromebook Pixel that was connected to a DisplayLink dock and told us that it is working to make Chrome OS support a reality.
Android Phone to Monitor
If, like us, you've tried to plug your Android device into a DisplayLink monitor, you've seen that it doesn't work. DisplayLink says it is working on Android drivers, but that those drivers would have to be preloaded on phones by OEMs rather than installed later by users. The company showed an Intel Android phone which had been modified to plug into a touchscreen Dell monitor.
According to DisplayLink, its technology would even allow a phone to output at a higher resolution than its screen can handle. So, if your phone only has a 720p screen but you have DisplayLink support, you'd be able to connect to a 1080p monitor and the Android image would scale up.
There's no word yet on when DisplayLink will be ready to release these technologies. The 4K dock seemed closest to completion, but until each product is consumer-ready, we'll be watching for them to hit the market.