Category Archives: News

Install the Latest DisplayLink Drivers Before Updating to Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 will be coming on the scene in just a few more days, bringing with it a lot of welcome changes and improvements over Windows 8. However, the upgrade to 8.1 will invalidate all but the most recent DisplayLink drivers.

Because of this, we are urging everyone who is using one of our docking stations or USB display adapters (all of which use DisplayLink) to download and install version 7.4 of those drivers from our driver page at this address: http://plugable.com/drivers/displaylink.

We have not been able to get our hands on an exact copy of the upgrade to Windows 8.1 that will be pushed to users on Oct. 17th over the Windows app store. However, the latest news is that any drivers that have not been signed specifically for Windows 8.1 will stop working after the upgrade. Because of this, it is possible that upgrading to Windows 8.1 without installing the version 7.4 drivers beforehand will leave the system in an unstable situation where the old drivers cannot be removed and the new ones cannot be installed. Installing the drivers in advance of the upgrade will prevent this by ensuring the correct drivers are in place before the upgrade. DisplayLink has published details about this on their website here.

DisplayLinkUpgradeIndication

You can check your version of the drivers by opening Programs and Features from the Control Panel. Two driver programs should be listed, DisplayLink Core Software and DisplayLink Graphics. The first two digits of the version numbers in the Version column of the display indicate the current version.

We will continue to monitor this situation and provide more information as we receive it.

Plugable USB Ethernet Adapters – Driver Updates with Windows 8.1 Upgrade

Q: What actions are needed for installing Plugable USB Ethernet adapters when upgrading to Windows 8.1 from Windows 8?

Note: these instructions only apply to traditional Intel/AMD based Windows, not Windows RT

A: When upgrading from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1, if you have our USB2-E100, it is supported with no additional actions needed as Windows 8.1 has the driver built-in. This also applies if you have our UD-160-A USB 2.0 Universal Docking Station.

For our USB2-E1000 or USB3-E1000, you will want to be connected to the Internet to allow the Microsoft Windows Update program to automatically install the latest driver for both of our gigabit network adapters. We strongly recommend when upgrading to Windows 8.1 to select the option “Go online to install updates now (recommended)” at the beginning of the upgrade process.

For a clean install of 8.1 without upgrading, a preexisting Internet connection will be needed for Windows Update to automatically install our USB2-E1000 or USB3-E1000.

Also, while the Windows Update drivers function without any issues, we recommend downloading the latest drivers from ASIX for our USB3-E1000 for the best performance: Version 1.16.9.0

Also see: Upgrading to Windows 8.1 on the Surface RT Will Break Wired Internet Access

Plugable USB 2.0 to 10/100 Fast Ethernet LAN Wired Network Adapter for Macbook, Chromebook, Windows ... Product Details
$11.95

Plugable USB 2.0 to 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN Wired Network Adapter for Windows, Mac, Chromeb... Product Details
$25.00

Plugable USB 3.0 to 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN Network Adapter... Product Details
$18.95

Plugable Bluetooth Speaker Stand – Replace your TV with a Tablet

Take a look at Plugable’s latest video on YouTube!


In this video we do a live product demonstration of our new BT-STAND comparing the sound quality between it and an iPad Retina! We also demonstrate just how easy it is to use, from pairing it to your tablet or phone, to configuring the stand to fit different devices.

Plugable Premium Bluetooth Stereo Speaker with Integrated 3-Point Folding Tablet / Phone Stand for A... Product Details
$39.95

Long VGA Cables and EDID

Some projectors and TVs won’t display anything when connected to a computer via the USB 3.0 to VGA graphics adapter, however they do display when connected to a computer via the VGA port or a USB 2.0 VGA adapter. What is going on here?

DisplayLink’s USB 3.0 generation products have a different behavior from the USB 2.0 generation — they disable themselves if nothing is attached. HDMI and DVI have a pin for hot-plug detection, but VGA does not. So the only way to know if a monitor is attached with VGA is if the monitor’s display information (EDID) can be read over the VGA cable. But there are cases where EDID information is lost, like with long (+10ft/3m) VGA cables  – in these cases, the USB 3.0 VGA adapter will assume there’s no display there.

Background

To understand what is happening we need to take a step back and look at the EDID standard. EDID, or Extended Display Identification Data, is information that is stored on most external displays. The EDID information contains a slew of display specific information like refresh rates, preferred timings, native resolutions, color space, audio capabilities, and other manufacturer details.

Normally, when you connect a 1920 x 1080 monitor directly to your computer, the graphics card tries to communicate with the display to read its EDID. If succeeds, it will learn that the monitor resolution is 1920 x 1080 and will output the proper 1920 x 1080 image. However, if EDID is not present, the graphics card will make a naive decision on what resolution to output to the connected monitor. Instead of getting a 1920 x 1080 image on your large monitor, you can end up with a resolution of 640 x 480 on a 1920 x 1080 display. The key point is that even without an EDID, the computer still outputs an image.

But for the USB 3.0 VGA adapter, having no EDID looks the same as having no monitor attached at all. So when can this happen?

Some TVs do not report EDID. Unfortunately, there is no simple solution to get these TVs to work as an external monitor using the USB 3.0 to VGA adapter. The only workaround is to either use the USB 2.0 to VGA adapter or a direct VGA port on the computer instead of the USB 3.0 to VGA adapter.

While most projectors do report their EDID information, many projector setups have lengthy VGA cables involved (e.g. ceiling projectors). When using a long VGA cable (+10ft/3m) the signal on the line where EDID is being read can get degraded and will not be visible to the USB 3.0 to VGA adapter. The solution around this is to either connect the VGA cable directly into the computer via a native VGA port, use a shorter VGA cable, or to use the USB 2.0 to VGA adapters that might not set an optimal mode without EDID, but will try a default mode at least.

Plugable BT-STAND Delivers Superior Audio Quality and Great Battery Life

The new Plugable Bluetooth Speaker Stand puts out at least four times more sound than the iPad’s built-in speakers.

Testing with a dB meter clearly shows how and why the BT-STAND sounds so much better than the tiny speakers in most phones and tablets.

Maximum dB and Frequency Response Testing Methodology:

  • How we measured dB: SL-824 Digital Sound Level Meter @ 12 inches away from the source.
  • Ambient room noise: 34dB in our lab.
  • Sample song: “Coldplay – Paradise”, Source: Youtube
  • 20Hz-20000Hz sweep: “Hearing Test HD”, Source: Youtube
  • Playback Device: iPad Retina

Q: What exactly is a “dB”?

A: Gain (volume/loudness) is typically measured in Decibels (dB). They are expressed on a logarithmic scale, where a 3dB increase sounds twice as loud. This means 96dB sounds twice as loud as 93dB, and 99dB sounds twice as loud as 96db. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decibel)


When testing the average dB (loudness) from the BT-STAND we wanted to use a popular sample song that had a good range of volume and really flowed from deep bass to high treble. We chose “Coldplay – Paradise”.

We set the iPad at its maximum Bluetooth audio volume, and found the average dB for this song at that setting was 95dB with a peak of 103dB. We repeated the test using the 3.5mm auxiliary input. Both methods peaked at identical volumes. However, Bluetooth had much less distortion than the 3.5mm aux cord. We recommend using Bluetooth unless your playback device doesn’t have it.

test

When played through the iPad Retina’s built-in speakers only, the average volume from our sample song was 80dB and peaked at 95dB. It sounded OK, but was very quiet in comparison.

test2

When testing maximum dB levels we learned that the BT-STAND is capable of sustained outputs of up to 112.5dB at around 8Hz-8.5kHz on a 20Hz-20kHz sweep with almost no distortion at all. This is extremely impressive for such a small device. The volume was so loud, I had trouble staying in the same room during the test.

During the 20Hz-20kHz sweep on the iPad, a peak of 104.8dB was recorded, but with heavy distortion. We stopped the test early to avoid permanently damaging the iPad speakers.

In this comparison of volume, going back to the dB scale for reference, our BT-STAND is at least four times louder than the iPad Retina!

The frequency response from the BT-STAND can be “heard” (vibrations can be felt from the internal 1.5″x0.75″ passive radiators more than heard) as low as 20Hz but usable audio starts at 45Hz and ends at about 14kHz (this may just been the limit of my ears). This is on par with our manufacturer’s specs of 50Hz to 20KHz, assuming my ears aren’t very good in the higher end of the spectrum.

When we tested the iPad’s frequency response, we were not surprised when we discovered it was severely lacking, with usable audio starting at just over 100Hz. No low-end bass response at all! Again the range ended around 14kHz, which might just be my ears.

Battery Life and Charge Testing:

Over the course of a few days in our office, the BT-STAND got almost 12 hours of on-and-off medium volume playback over Bluetooth on a single charge. In our opinion, this was extremely impressive, especially considering the small size and lightweight design of the unit.

_DSW4223_256_DSW4224_256

Charging the BT-STAND from its low battery warning beep to a full charge takes about 5 hours using any USB charger. While charging we found the BT-STAND only pulls about 0.2A, so it won’t matter if you are charging from a USB port on your computer, a USB hub, or a dedicated charger. We suggest you plug it in at the end of the day and let it charge up overnight. It will be ready to go in the morning!

_DSW4228_256

Where to Buy

Plugable Premium Bluetooth Stereo Speaker with Integrated 3-Point Folding Tablet / Phone Stand for A... Product Details
$39.95

Plugable Launches Adapter to Enable Charging on Any Powered USB Port

It’s frustrating, but many devices won’t charge on a powered USB port the way you’d expect. This includes most Apple, Samsung, and Google phones and tablets.

This is because the phone must choose how much power to pull, and by the original USB spec devices are supposed to only draw 100mA at first. They can then negotiate up to 500mA. This negotiation requires a PC that’s attached and on.

The iPhone and most other non-tablets will charge at 500mA on a standard USB port this way. But they can also charge faster (up to 1000mA) if a port sends a special, non-standard signal to say “I’m an Apple 1A charger”. It does this by shorting the data lines (disabling data transfer at that point) and putting a specific signal voltage on each of USB’s two data lines. Even though it’s not a standard, nearly all phones and tablets on the market today recognize this signal.

For tablets like the iPad, this mechanism is even more important. Because these batteries are larger, charging at 500mA would be slow. The 1A “I’m an Apple charger” signal becomes the minimum for the tablet to report charging at all.

This new Plugable USB-MC1 Charging Adapter simulates that 1A signal, turning any powered USB port with at least 1A power available into a charging port.

Charging both a iPad 4 and iPod 3

Charging both a iPad 4 and iPod 3

This also has the effect of disabling data transfer, so you can safely plug your phone or tablet into a public computer and the phone or tablet will charge, but not be visible to the computer otherwise — you’re safe to charge without worrying about exposing your data.

Leave this attached to your phone or tablet’s USB charging cable to greatly expand the set of USB ports you can charge on.

iPad Not Charging        Ipad Charging

Above on the left is an Apple iPad connected to a standard USB hub that has plenty of power available, but you can see on the iPad’s screen in the upper right, that it’s not charging.

On the right is the same setup with our adapter in-between the iPad and the hub. You can see the iPad now sees the hub as a charger, and is charging the battery.

How many of these adapters can be safely used on a powered hub at once?

The AC adapter of your powered hub needs to be rated for at least 1A per USB charging adapter connected. If it is not, over-current may be triggered (causing all power to the hub to shut off), or the hub circuit or power supply may heat up from too much current being pulled through by the device. If this happens, remove devices until you’re back within the rated amperage.

So before you go running off and buy 10 of these little dongles to turn your 10 port hub into a charging super station, keep in mind that you are still limited by how much power the USB hub has access to. For instance, our 10 Port USB 2.0 Hub comes with a power supply of 2.5A, that is only enough to actively charge 2 devices at the Apple 1A Charger rate with .5A left for spare devices on the hub.

More questions?

The Plugable USB-MC1 product page has more detail, including a table of charging rates with some common phones and tablets. Have any other questions? We’re happy to help. Feel free to comment below or email support@plugable.com anytime. Thanks for your support of Plugable products!

Where to buy

Plugable Power USB Universal Fast Charge-Only Adapter for for Android, Apple iOS, and Windows Device... Product Details
$7.95

BT-STAND with music notes for website

Plugable Launches New Bluetooth Wireless Speaker with Integrated Tablet/Phone Stand

Have you ever wanted to watch a movie or listen to music on your tablet or phone, only to be frustrated by the awful sound from the tiny built-in speakers? Plugable has got you covered! The BT-Stand, our new Bluetooth wireless speaker, delivers surprisingly rich and resonant sound, while doubling as a stand for your tablet or phone. Compact and lightweight, it’s the perfect companion for your tablet or phone when you are on the go.

Plugable Bluetooth Wireless Speaker Tablet/Phone Stand with NFC Pairing

Plugable Bluetooth Wireless Speaker Tablet/Phone Stand with NFC Pairing

The BT-Stand’s lithium-ion battery lets you enjoy up to 10 hours of surprisingly rich, full sound, and easily recharges using the included micro USB cable. With 5 watts of power, 50Hz to 20KHz frequency response, and 85dB sound, it gives you surprising volume with very little distortion. It delivers great-sounding enhanced bass though its two 1″ main speakers and four internal 1.5″x0.75″ passive radiators with external bass reflex ports.

_DSW4223_256

A great feature of the BT-Stand is support for Near Field Communication (NFC). NFC allows compatible devices like many tablets and smartphones to read connection information directly from the BT-Stand via radio when they are held next to each other. This makes pairing fast and easy. Simply align the NFC logos and tap to pair the two devices and stream your music.

Any device that supports the A2DP Bluetooth stereo protocol should work with the BT-Stand. When pairing it with a computer, we highly recommend our own Plugable USB-BT4LE Bluetooth 4.0 USB adapter. The BT-Stand also features an auxiliary 3.5mm audio input jack for use with the standard headphone output found on most non-Bluetooth devices such as iPods, other MP3 players, computers, and other devices.

_DSW4228_256

The BT-Stand features solid construction with a compact V-Frame design that supports your tablet or phone and can be adjusted to multiple viewing angles. Most phones and tablets will fit, with or without a protective case or sleeve. Rubber feet provide maximum stability.

 phone_256

Plugable’s new BT-Stand offers a huge improvement in both volume and quality of sound over the poor-sounding integrated speakers typically found on tablets, phones, and laptops. Its compact foldable design lets you stick it in your tablet or laptop bag, backpack, or purse and bring it along wherever you go. It’s the perfect companion on road trip or vacation. Take it to the beach or park and enjoy some quality sound. You imagination is the only limit to where you can go with it!

Where to Buy

Plugable Premium Bluetooth Stereo Speaker with Integrated 3-Point Folding Tablet / Phone Stand for A... Product Details
$39.95

DisplayLink Apple Mac OS X 2.1 Beta now available

DisplayLink has released a beta of their new version 2.1 drivers (Sept, 2013) for Apple Mac OS X 10.6 – 10.9.

This new 2.1 driver has many improvements over the previous Mac OS X version 2.0 drivers (March, 2013). In short, it’s a must-have install for Mac users on 10.8.5 and earlier. It supports all existing DisplayLink-based USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 adapters and docks, including Plugable’s. And it’s a first step towards 10.9 support.

Here are the details.

Limited support for OS X Mavericks (10.9)

Mavericks requires updated USB graphics drivers. 2.1 is the first version from DisplayLink with support for 10.9. However, it is very rough support, with a long list of limitations, detailed below.

Once Apple and DisplayLink have further updates leading up to the release of 10.9, Apple multi-monitor enthusiasts will have a lot of improvements to look forward to, in terms of improved multi-monitor support. From Apple’s OS X Mavericks page:

There’s no longer a primary or secondary display — now each has its own menu bar, and the Dock is available on whichever screen you’re working on. You can have multiple app windows running on either display. Or run an app full screen on each one. Even show a desktop on one display and a full-screen app on another.

Support for Dual Head Docks

DisplayLink 2.1 supports the latest firmware configuration format for the latest docks and adapters, and adds support for the new Plugable UD-3900 docking station, offering dual HDMI/DVI display outputs as well as ethernet input, 2 USB 3.0 ports, and 4 USB 2.0 ports.

Ethernet bug fixes

The DisplayLink Mac 2.0 driver was the first to offer support for the DL3500 chip’s ethernet functionality. This initial release revealed a few wonky issues with ethernet on our USB 3.0 DisplayLink based product, like the Plugable UD-3000 docking station. Most common was the issue of network disconnections- where the network cable would show being unplugged even when it was actually connected.

DisplayLink 2.1 resolves all known instances of these problems, allowing you to surf in peace.

What limitations and problems remain on Mac?

For technical users on OS X seeking to maximize workspace and productivity, DisplayLink’s 2.1 driver is a big step forward. However, there are still important issues to consider:

  1. Mac OS X will not support USB 3.0 audio until 10.8.5 / 10.9. Until then, audio on a dock or display will not work when connected via USB 3.0. This is an Apple limitation. Fortunately, Apple’s support for this is coming soon.
  2. Mavericks 10.9 breaks existing USB graphics drivers. While this version 2.1 driver has some early support for 10.9, there are still many issues remaining. DisplayLink calls out these issues:
    • Screen corruption and layout issues when adding more than one additional DisplayLink monitor.
    • Some applications using single buffer rendering may flicker on DisplayLink monitor.
    • Scrolling pages in Safari may cause corruption on DisplayLink screen.
    • Playing movie in QuickTime may cause the title bar to flicker.
    • Fast user switching may not work correctly when using DisplayLink monitors.
    • Sometimes rotating one DisplayLink monitor rotates a different display.
    • Sometimes when DisplayLink monitor is set as primary after waking up from sleep it is disconnected and there is no login screen visible.
    • Corruption on the screen may be visible while rotating DisplayLink displays.

    In short, until DisplayLink and Apple have further updates for 10.9, DisplayLink users should avoid the upgrade to 10.9 if possible.

  3. DisplayLink’s OS X 2.1 driver relies on system CPU and not GPU processing, so the video and application-specific notes in our previous blog post, DisplayLink USB Graphics and OS X Limitations, remain relevant.

The bottom line is that DisplayLink 2.1 fixes a number of larger bugs relating to ethernet and dual display outputs under OS X 10.8 “Mountain Lion” and provides initial support for OS X 10.9 “Mavericks”. This makes our USB 3.0 docking station products a whole lot better on OS X. Just keep in mind that this is still in beta, and it may introduce its own little quirks.

Additional details and the driver .dmg download are here:
DisplayLink 2.1 OS X Beta Forum.

We’re here to help and we welcome your questions. Email support@plugable.com anytime, or just comment below. Thanks for going out of your way for Plugable products!

Plugable UD-3900 USB 3.0 SuperSpeed Universal Docking Station with Dual Video Outputs for Windows 8.... Product Details
$99.00

Plugable UD-3000 USB 3.0 SuperSpeed Universal Docking Station for Windows 8.1, 8, 7, XP (HDMI and DV... Product Details
$89.00

New 2013 Google Nexus 7 and USB Ethernet Adapters

The new 2013 Google Nexus 7 (“Gen 2″ or “flo”) has a bug where USB Ethernet adapters won’t work — they’ll appear to be recognized, but won’t get a DHCP address.

This is with Android 4.3, builds JSS15J and JSS15Q at least.

There is an open bug on this issue, we we’re hopeful that Google will fix quickly with an update:
https://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=58868

Until then, it’s important to realize that USB Ethernet adapters won’t work. So far, there is no evidence of this affecting other devices (e.g. the original Nexus 7 is not yet affected).

In combination with a USB OTG cable, it’s common to use USB Ethernet adapters to get wired network connectivity for performance (2-3x wireless) and security reasons.

For advanced users familiar with rooting devices and flashing custom ROMS, the latest CyanogenMod builds should now have this fixed.

New Plugable USB 3.0 Universal Docking Station (with Dual Monitor Support)

We’re excited to announce the launch of our newest UD-3900 USB 3.0 Universal Laptop / Tablet docking station, adding an additional HDMI port to our UD-3000 docking station, currently the #1 selling Laptop Docking Station on Amazon.com.

Using DisplayLink’s top-of-the-line DL-3900 chipset, this unit offers all the functionality the DisplayLink chip has to offer, plus the latest VL812 USB 3.0 hub chipset from Via Labs for extra available USB ports.

Here are the two models side-by-side

Plugable UD-3000 Plugable UD-3900
$99.99 $129
New!

We’re excited to add this integrated, more cost-effective option for getting two extra displays (plus lots of other functions), all via a single USB 3.0 cable.

For both of these models, support is currently for Windows only. DisplayLink has new Mac drivers version 2.1 coming in future weeks which will allow us to update our recommendation for Mac.

And if you have any questions at all, please feel free to comment below or email us at support@plugable.com – we’re happy to help. Thanks!

Where to Buy

Plugable UD-3900 USB 3.0 SuperSpeed Universal Docking Station with Dual Video Outputs for Windows 8.... Product Details
$99.00

Plugable UD-3000 USB 3.0 SuperSpeed Universal Docking Station for Windows 8.1, 8, 7, XP (HDMI and DV... Product Details
$89.00