Monday Musings: Multiple Monitors, or One Big One?
It’s no secret that we like our gadgets here in Agile, but the ones that get the biggest reactions when people see them are our fully height & orientation adjustable dual monitor stands. It’s not just the stands that impress people though; power-users love the idea of keeping e-mail open on one screen whilst working on documents in the other, accountants love having a pair of Excel books open side-by-side and network admins love being able to remote into another system whilst having easy access to their own desktop. In fact, it’s hard to think of a scenario that couldn’t be improved on with the use of multiple-monitors. Given that monitor prices have tumbled over recent years, multi-monitor setups are no longer the reserve of the city trader. There is however big debate as to whether multi-monitor setups actually improve productivity or not. The crux of the argument is that the initial studies into multi-monitor setups were all funded by (you’ve guessed it) monitor manufacturers, and as a result their results are often taken with a pinch of salt. In general though, the argument for multi-monitor setups is plain to see:
- More screen real-estate enables more applications to be visible at once, cutting down on wasted “toggling” time
What needs to be taken into account though, are the potential pitfalls:
- Data saturation – rather than focus on the task at hand, it is easy to be distracted by scanning multiple screens
- It can be anti-social, sitting behind a wall of monitors
In any case, the alternative is to go down the single large-monitor route. As prices have decreased, sizes have increased, making 24” to 30” monitors the norm in a lot of organizations, all for the same price of a 19” monitor three years ago. Features like Windows 7 Snap serve the same function as a two-monitor setup without the additional cost so why not just opt for the bigger screen? Well, the biggest issue we’ve come across is the distance from which the average user sits away from their monitors. With one large monitor you may have to position yourself further back to be able to take it all in, whereas with a multi-monitor setup, you are able to tilt both monitors in towards your natural field of view. As a result we’ve found users suffer less fatigue using two smaller monitors compared to one large one.
Of course, your experiences may differ. We’ve put in monitors in ones, twos and threes, and it looks like our first six-way setup is on the horizon. The type of work you do will likely dictate what will work best in your scenario, but whatever you do, make sure you work safely.
That’s it for this Monday! If you are thinking about getting more monitor real-estate get in touch and we’ll see what we can do to help.