So it turns out that not only can you use that little VGA port on the Eee PC to display an 800 x 480 desktop on an external monitor, you can go all the way up to 1280 x 1024, and possibly beyond. Since my monitor won’t support resolutions higher than that, I can’t promise anything.
When you plug in an external monitor you can choose to view the display just on your Eee PC, just on your external monitor, or on both screens. Then you can choose whether to display 800 x 480 pixels on both screens, or manually set your resolution. If you choose anything higher than 800 x 480, only a portion of your desktop will actually be displayed on your Eee PC. Here’s a shot of Google Reader in Firefox showing how much more screen real estate you get with an external monitor:
Although you could probably buy a more powerful laptop or desktop PC for $400, I’m starting to think that you really could use the Eee PC as primary computer. Just plug in a mouse, monitor, and external keyboard and you’re good to go.
Oh yeah, and while support for external monitors is cool, it’s also very useful. Because of the Eee PC’s cramped display, some applications just don’t fit very well. I’ve run across several programs that make it nearly impossible to edit your preferences, because several check boxes (including the “ok” or “apply” buttons) fall below the screen where you can’t access them without an external display.