Plugable UD-160-A Display Issues

Plugable UD-160-AI recently purchased a Plugable UD-160-A Universal Docking Station so I could add a third display in addition to my laptop’s display and my primary monitor. I was experiencing some odd transparency/overlap issues with some apps on the monitor connected to the UD-160, and (easier to duplicate), Windows Aero Peek was not working—I was only seeing the program window names when I hovered over icons in the taskbar.

The Windows Aero troubleshooter said that the Desktop Window Manager was disabled, but it was not. Restarting that service had no effect other than to reproduce the Desktop Window Manager crash and generate this error in the Application event log:

Log Name:      Application
Source:        Desktop Window Manager
Event ID:      9020
Level:         Error
Computer:      WIN7X64PC.mydomain.local
Description:  The Desktop Window Manager has encountered a fatal error (0x88980406)


The UD-160 uses a DisplayLink chip. When I typed “aero” into Plugable’s custom Google search, it led me to this 2009 article on the DisplayLink forum. In contrast to that user, my system has integrated Intel HD Graphics. Windows 7 tells me the driver software is up to date. I was not looking forward to trying the suggested fix of forcing the installation of Vista drivers.

Windows 7 Platform Update

Then I found this article started by a user with a totally different configuration than mine but who was getting the same Desktop Window Manager crash. The accepted answer by “omnicosmic” is to uninstall the Platform Update for Windows 7 x64-Edition (KB2670838). That did in fact install on my system in February 2013 (though I suppressed the Internet Explorer 10 upgrade). After uninstalling that update and rebooting, Aero Peek is working again!

New Problem:  Blurry Text

Unfortunately, I now have a new, and arguably worse, problem:  windows on the monitor connected to the US-160 go fuzzy when there is any activity. For example, if I have Firefox on that monitor and refresh a page, while the page is loading. all the text is blurred. When the page finishes loading, the text is clear again. Even dragging the window around blurs the text until I stop moving the window.

Back to the Plugable search and I came up with Extended monitor repeatedly blurs on the DisplayLink forum. DisplayLink team member Wim replied,

This is due to “Optimize for Video” being enabled in the DisplayLink GUI. If you disable “Optimize for Video”, then this will not occur.

Sure enough, after using the DisplayLink icon in the system tray to uncheck Optimize for Video, the text no longer goes fuzzy.

It seemed odd that I would have to disable video optimization to get video to work right, but it made more sense after reading Wim’s explanation here:

“Optimise for Video” lowers the video quality so there is less data to send. This means we can keep the framerate high, so your video playback looks smoother. The quality of the video will be slightly lower than watching it on the primary screen, but at least the framerate will be higher, which is more important when sitting back watching a film.

Maybe it should be called Optimize for Streaming Video—it’s not something you want for routine computer use.

Now I wonder if Optimize for Video was the problem with Aero Peek as well…

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