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Tips For The Multi-Display Life

Wrap-Up and Conclusions

Long gone are the days where LCD displays were expensive and difficult to find. Even big-box electronics stores run sales on 22-inch and 24-inch displays in their Sunday circulars.

But if you’re ready to make the jump to a second monitor.–we wouldn’t recommend just dropping by your local Best Buy and buying whatever’s on sale Before you pull the trigger on a shiny new display, it is worth doing a little thinking. First, make sure you’re looking at the right size of display for your needs and your workspace. Laptop and netbook users can probably get away with larger displays because they’re likely only buying one and using it in conjunction with their built-in monitors.

A desktop user looking to replace a smaller display or get rid of an old CRT should take the workspace into account before buying, but, frankly buying anything smaller than a 22-inch display these days is probably a waste of money. Most sales are for displays 22-inches and bigger, and most computer manufacturers bundle the desktops they’re trying to sell with a 22-inch or 24-inch display. However, if you only sit 6 inches from your display, a pair of 24-inch monitors may be overkill for your workspace. Either that,or it’s time for you to buy a new desk.

Studies have shown that adding a second display to a workstation that only has one can improve your productivity. If you take the time to make sure you buy the right display size and model for your situation, you’ll feel like you got a whole new computer.

  • cadder
    I run CAD and have 2 22" 16:10 displays on my desk. This is almost too much width, it sacrifices open space on each side that I would use to lay large documents for reference.

    If you already have one monitor and you want to buy a second one, first measure your space, second measure the height and width of your current monitor. It might look funny if you have a 4:3 monitor that is fairly tall and you buy a widescreen that ends up being wider but not quite as tall. But I think it would be OK if the new widescreen is taller. Also be prepared to have different colors between the 2 monitors. One might look a bit blue compared to the other one for instance, and it might be difficult to match the brightnesses between them. If possible buy 2 matching monitors and replace what you already have.

    Of course always check that your computer has ports for connection of 2 monitors. Older PC's will have 15-pin VGA connectors, newer PC's will probably have the rectangular DVI connectors, or even HDMI. Monitors will come with different types of inputs, and possibly with a variety of cables and/or adapters. If you know what you have then when you buy your monitors you can be sure they will work right away without needing another trip to the store for new cables and/or adapters.
    Reply
  • socalboomer
    Dual monitors is also very inexpensive - dual 17" monitors can greatly increase your real estate and your productivity for very little money (17" monitors are CHEAP).

    Personally, I use four, stacked 2x2, and it is amazing. One is dedicated to email, one to other email plus calendars and utilities, one is for terminal windows (to servers) as well as general work, and a wider monitor is there for general purpose. Amazing - and go back to even dual monitors is really limiting!

    One little note - for more than two monitors, you're going to need a second video card (or a single ATI) - make sure your computer will handle it (likely need dual PCIx16 slots, at least physical slots) - but oh it's worth it!
    Reply
  • sabot00
    3 24inch screens are great, both for gaming & UDK.
    Reply
  • liquid0h
    My office at work uses dual screens. I remember when we first got them, we thought it might have been a waste of money. But going on 3 years now and we haven't looked back. Working with multiple Excel sheets or Access tables is a breeze now.
    Reply
  • m-manla
    I'm planning to replace my old 22" 16:10 monitor in for two 22" 16:9 monitor. I have worked on dual screens in different occasions and there is nothing like it.
    Reply
  • tommysch
    As a gamer I run a 24" 1920*1080 main screen and a 19" 1280*1080 secondary screen. Its particularly useful when playing a FPS competitively. You can have your GPU temp, CPU temp, ping to many references, bandwidth monitor, vent/mumble/TS always in sight, core usage, RAM usage and messenger while playing a full screen game. I dont even use my G15 screen anymore.
    Reply
  • skpman
    thanks TH! i was really looking for the software that gives you dual taskbars... just bought Ultramon! loving ittt

    BTW my work sucks. us engineers are using 17" (yeah, seriously) monitors. I bought my own secondary because it was getting so frustrating. My 26" at home is more than enough for my personal needs...

    On a related note.. anyone from TH know about this product:
    http://www.soundgraph.com/fingervu706-feature-en/
    Reply
  • ds1495
    Oops, just noticed a minor little spelling error in the article. When it says: "If so, are three monitors better than too that should be spelled two :P

    Anyways, nice article, I have been looking into getting a second monitor for a while now, perhaps I'll take the plunge now.
    Reply
  • JohnnyLucky
    Thank you for a very informative article . Ever since I built my new pc 3 months ago I've been wanting to get mutiple monitors for both work and play. The article cleared up some questions I had about monitor and desk sizes. Turns out I was right in thinking my 23 inch deep desk would be too shallow for what I want.
    Reply
  • volks1470
    hooray for me, I just took the plunge a week ago. ATI makes a multi-monitor setup such a breeze. I love bezel compensation!
    Reply