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Ask Slashdot: Monitor Setup For Programmers

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the looking-good dept.

Programming 312

First time accepted submitter oxidus60659 writes "I currently work as a programmer for a small business. They have provided me with a laptop and a 27" BenQ monitor on a Neo-Flex stand. The problem is that my main screen is the tiny laptop right in front of me. The 27" monitor is on the left at a very different height position. I want to put the 27" monitor directly above my laptop so I'm looking up rather than to the left for all my coding on the bigger monitor. The stand does not have a high enough setting to accommodate this. What would be a good stand that can mount to a desk high enough to be above a laptop? What kind of monitor setup do you use when programming?"

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Shove the laptop to one side (5, Insightful)

Eunuchswear (210685) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061783)

Use a real keyboard, mouse and monitor - why do you need to look at the laptop?

Re:Shove the laptop to one side (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061801)

This. ^

It's a complete no-brainer.

Re:Shove the laptop to one side (1)

maroberts (15852) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061819)

So much of a no-brainer that about 5 of us all posted the same answer almost simultaneously! :-)

Re:Shove the laptop to one side (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43061973)

I try to avoid using external kbd for a laptop, cause I want to get used to the kbd on the laptop for those occasions when I have no choice. Also, if I use an external kbd, the screen of the laptop (which is a beautiful 13" FHD screen) ends up further away, and why not use good screen real estate when it's available?

I have my monitor on a stack of printer paper to get it high enough to clear the laptop screen, so I have only a few cm between the top of the laptop screen to the bottom of the external screen. I can also regulate the top of the laptop screen by tilting it backwards/forwards and align it pretty perfect with the external screen.

Re:Shove the laptop to one side (2)

maroberts (15852) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062049)

If you're doing serious programming, you should use the best keyboard you can, and in most cases a cheap USB keyboard is kinder to the fingers than any laptop keyboard is going to be, thus reducing the risks of RSI and similar injuries.

By all means leave the laptop open so you can have an auxiliary screen as well as your main screen. Anyway 13" laptop sceens are a joke for doing anything serious, 17"+ laptop screens are the One True Answer :-)

Re:Shove the laptop to one side (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43062139)

screen of the laptop (which is a beautiful 13" FHD screen) ends up further away

You don't have to park the laptop across the room or anything. Just move it to the side.

Re:Shove the laptop to one side (5, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062143)

I try to avoid using external kbd for a laptop, cause I want to get used to the kbd on the laptop for those occasions when I have no choice. Also, if I use an external kbd, the screen of the laptop (which is a beautiful 13" FHD screen) ends up further away, and why not use good screen real estate when it's available?

I have my monitor on a stack of printer paper to get it high enough to clear the laptop screen, so I have only a few cm between the top of the laptop screen to the bottom of the external screen. I can also regulate the top of the laptop screen by tilting it backwards/forwards and align it pretty perfect with the external screen.

Maybe you should also forgo using a second monitor so you can get used to using the laptop monitor only for those occasions when you have no choice.

I have a laptop and desktop both at home and at work and regularly switch between them without any problems with the keyboard after a few minutes of typing - one of the laptops is netbook with a smaller than normal keyboard.

The only keyboard I have trouble getting used to is the rack mounted KVM keyboard in the server room because that one has a non-standard layout for some of the keys.

Re:Shove the laptop to one side (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062243)

"It's a complete no-brainer."

It's only a no-brainer if by that you mean a brain wasn't used in coming up with it.

This suggestion is not very efficient, and it is not ergonomic at all.

Looking down at a laptop on your desk is NOT a good, ergonomic working position. Simply substituting another monitor wastes good monitor space.

The solution? Put the laptop up on a stand next to the other monitor, and use both.

For good ergonomic working conditions, the top of your monitor(s) should be at about eye level. So place your main monitor at about that level, and raise your laptop up so they are side-by-side. Especially if the laptop has a high-resolution monitor.

That gives you the maximum screen real estate, AND the most ergonomic setup.

Re:Shove the laptop to one side (2)

Caedite Eos (2769585) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061817)

Use a real keyboard, mouse and monitor

Yes. Always.

why do you need to look at the laptop?

Mo' screenz 's mo' better.

Re:Shove the laptop to one side (1)

Claggy (619415) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061835)

That was my first thought too,

Re:Shove the laptop to one side (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43061841)

This is the only acceptable answer. Please lock this story now, so we don't get any more stupid comments like mine.

Re:Shove the laptop to one side (1)

CityZen (464761) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062017)

In addition, get a stand for the laptop, so that its screen is level(er) with the big one.

Re:Shove the laptop to one side (5, Interesting)

xaxa (988988) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062087)

Use a real keyboard, mouse and monitor - why do you need to look at the laptop?

Not doing this is either illegal, or close, in the UK: http://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/dse/guidance.htm [hse.gov.uk]

Except for infrequent short-term use, a real keyboard and mouse is necessary, and a docking station or stand that holds the laptop screen up to the correct level (top of screen just below eye level, at least an arm's length away) or a separate monitor.

(I had the annual "watch this video on using computers" thing on Thursday. We all laughed at the poor production and daft people in it, but I think everyone went back to their desks and adjusted something that wasn't quite right.)

Re:Shove the laptop to one side (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062155)

The laptop screen is still useful for a secondary monitor - think tool palettes, documentation, log file, etc.

Just be sure to logically position it to match where it is physically with the DE's display management tools.

Re:Shove the laptop to one side (1)

nine-times (778537) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062161)

I was going to say, "if the problem is that the main screen is your laptop screen, then don't have that be your main screen. If you can't figure out how to do that, then you might want to rethink your vocation."

If you need me screen real estate, buy another screen. This ain't hard

Re:Shove the laptop to one side (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062313)

If you need me screen real estate, buy another screen. This ain't hard

Unless you're on a macbook. Which for practical purposes limits you to one external monitor. (Yes USB solutions exist, but so far they suck IMO.) That's for the 2011 mbp - maybe they fixed this shortcoming in the 2012 model?

Re:Shove the laptop to one side (2)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43062169)

Exactly. My setup is pretty straightforward. The notebook (Lenovo X230) sits in its dock with the lid closed. I have two monitor arms attached to the desk. One holds a 27" 2560 x something monitor directly in front of me and the other arm holds a 24" 1920 x 1080 monitor in portrait orientation (for documentation) that sits slightly to the right.

At home, I have a duplicate dock but just my own personal monitors (smaller, but still two of them). The only time you have the notebook open is when you are using it in a meeting, airport, couch, or the like. At your desk it should be closed and driving the external monitors, keyboard, and mouse.

Re:Shove the laptop to one side (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43062239)

Exactly this ^. When I use my laptop as my main system in my second office, I have two 27" Samsung monitors that I hook up to it with a Microsoft Sidewinder keyboard and Razer Mamba mouse with a powered USB hub. Why on earth would you use the crappy laptop keyboard or screen? The only thing worse is using the touch pad for work. I use the same mouse and keyboard and similar monitors on my home office system as well, that way I have no ergonomic changes when pausing development at one location and moving to the other. I also run my wall mounted TV as a third monitor at home so that I can control media or show presentations to other people.

Re:Shove the laptop to one side (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43062267)

And the docking station for the laptop too. This question totally approaches derp-derp territory.

usb keyboard and mouse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43061789)

and move the laptop to the side

Re:usb keyboard and mouse (1)

anagama (611277) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062079)

Four reams of paper stacked up. Set monitor on pile. Place laptop in front. And like everyone else mentioned, plug in a keyboard and mouse.

Re:usb keyboard and mouse (1)

Zumbs (1241138) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062151)

That is a good way to get an aching neck. When working with a screen, the top of the screen should be slightly below your eyes.

Re:usb keyboard and mouse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43062305)

4 reams of paper is about right to put the top of the screen at about eye-level for an adult, though I prefer the middle of the screen at eye-level, and use obsolete technical books rather than waste usable paper.

Re:usb keyboard and mouse (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43062323)

The ergonomic people say that the CENTER of the monitor should be directly at eye level

Re:usb keyboard and mouse (1)

war4peace (1628283) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062335)

None of my monitors have their top slightly below my eyes. I eyeball monitors all day long (10-16 hours a day). My neck is fine, thanks for asking.
Not all people are alike, no matter how much specialists struggle to classify them and put them in little boxes.

You are doing it wrong (0)

maroberts (15852) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061795)

Plug a real keyboard and mouse into the laptops USB sockets. You don't need the laptop in front of you, just the screen, mouse and keyboard.

Keyboard and mouse (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43061807)

I attach a keyboard and mouse to my laptop, then use the big screen as my main scene with the smaller laptop screen off to the side for reference. Alternatively you can find a mount with an arm that I see artists use to move your screen in almost any position.

Big book (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43061809)

I use an old 3000 pages "Java 1.2" book to stand the screen right in front of my head an gets the job done

if you really want to boost the height,... (1)

Selur (2745445) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061823)

use some of those huge C++/HTML/... books that are probably lying around somewhere in a corner,... (if they are lying on the ground you will probably need something new to put your feed on, but that's another story,..)

Re:if you really want to boost the height,... (3, Funny)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062067)

(if they are lying on the ground you will probably need something new to put your feed on, but that's another story,..)

Your food comes in sacks?

Omolene - breakfast of champions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43062201)

50 pound sacks, mixed grains and molasses, along with healthy minerals. Not bad with a bit of milk or on yogurt.

Re:Omolene - breakfast of champions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43062321)

Lol Awesome.

Um (1)

Jethro (14165) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061827)

Why don't you just put the laptop off to the side and put the big monitor in front of you?

Definitely use a real keyboard and mouse, too. If your laptop can do a docking station, get one of those (some laptops only have VGA-out on the laptop, but have HDMI on the docking station).

Use the Display properties properly (1)

Quick Reply (688867) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061833)

Not sure what environment you are using, but it should be fairly similar for Linux/Mac.
In Windows, you can go into the Display Properties and select which to be the primary monitor (which the task bar appears and which Windows open on by default), you can also click on a monitor picture to select it and use the UP/DOWN/LEFT/RIGHT keys to position the monitor relative to the other monitors exactly as it is physically so that the mouse cursor lines up when moving the mouse across monitors and to/from the correct edges.

Re:Use the Display properties properly (1)

pipatron (966506) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061999)

Yeah, uhm, great, but how does this physically move the monitor?

Really? (4, Insightful)

Ziggitz (2637281) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061837)

I'm not usually one to complain about the broadness of these ask slashdot questions, but this one essentially boils down to furniture advice.

Re:Really? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061917)

Not even that. Use a small box.

Peoplr at my work do that too -- put the other monitor up so it's stacked with the laprop monitor. I don't get it. Side-to-side is the way I've been doing it for over 15 years now, home and work.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43061935)

Agreed. Our illustrious editors really are outdoing themselves these days. Ah, slashdot, I remember the days of CmdrTaco fondly. When nerds were nerds and Slashdot was tech, not politics and furniture guides.

Re:Really? (1)

ak3ldama (554026) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062263)

No kidding. He is a programmer, right? Which typically means he has a combination of books he could use to get to the appropriate height he wants. I did this for quite a while. Now however, at home, I am happy with one monitor. Which conveniently is height adjustable. This guy could do the same if he put the laptop off to the side or in a laptop hammoc on the side of the desk. A 27" at 2560x1440 is pretty comfy. Google/duckduckgo for ars or some other guide... [arstechnica.com] If it was sitting on the desk to the side, when connected, the laptop could become the secondary monitor for GUI debugging, etc, if that helps with his work. But yea this is a rather lame ask /. question. The guy might as well waste his day looking at battlestations or something.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43062285)

Stacking books to change a monitor's height is actually a health and safety violation in a business environment. Daft, I know. But that's the reality these days.

Ergotron DS-100 Vertical (1)

Crash24 (808326) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061839)

I have a pair of 22" monitors mounted in a vertical configuration using the DS-100 Vertical [ergotron.com] . It's a bit pricey (I did get it on sale at NewEgg), but it's ridiculously strong and sturdy. You can just install one of the monitor brackets at the top of the pole and have plenty of room for a laptop below. As an alternative, you can try their cheaper single monitor arms [ergotron.com] .

Simple solution (2)

pswPhD (1528411) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061849)

Pick any monitor you wish, then put it on a pile of books. you can get it as high as you wish

Re:Simple solution (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062101)

I use my high school yearbook to raise one of my monitors an inch.

3 screens ... efficiently. (1)

wallyhall (665610) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061851)

Middle holds the code I'm working on (Notepad2, Delphi, midnight commander or most likely vim - with PuTTY maximised.)

Windows taskbar sits at the top of the middle screen, as it feels most natural to me... (given I have no choice of OS at work).

Left of me is usually my inbox or a production monitoring screen, because I have that responsibility too. With web app programming it holds a browser showing the rendering of my latest code probably with the javascript debugger running. Depending on the nature of the code, it might be another PuTTY session with a "tail -f /var/log/mycode" ... because I rarely get it right first time ;-)

Finally on the right, php.net or Delphi's awesome help files, or even some reference material from stackoverflow (WIN). Slashdot sits in a tab at the back there.

Most importantly, with 3 screens I've never felt I don't have enough space. My brain can only handle 2 things at once (i.e. code and code output, or stackoverflow and code, or code output and the email I'm copying it into, etc) ... but my brain (personally) gets distracted if I loose something "behind" another. So having that 3rd screen lets me have 3 things open, switching between any combination of a pair.

I like having them big enough for my poor eye sight, reasonably low brightness setting (with high contrast). Different white balance annoys me, but that's a personal thing purely.

Finally, they have to be high enough. I'm tall, and I sit upon a gym ball to try and enforce my naturally awful posture. Having the screens a little higher than recommended relieves my neck pain hugely. (Someone will no doubt tell me I'm wrong here! I personally find it works well, judging by how well I sleep at late.)

A non-distracting wallpaper (solid colour) or a good MacOSX shipped offering and no icons (no, not one!) ... they distract me hugely. And a little tip from myself, have the two on the left/right slightly lower (if your taskbar is at the top, or slightly higher if the bottom) so you can move straight to the start button and system tray and have Windows "corner" your mouse cursor for you (without it flying off to another screen).

I've met several good programmers who swear 2 is enough, I've secretly sourced and subtly (like a ninja) installed a 3rd screen for them, they didn't even notice for the first few hours. They've all eventually converted.

It's not about *using* all three, it's about having the room to spread work out, without having to context switch yourself between stacks of windows. Well, at least it is for me.

Re:3 screens ... efficiently. (1)

wallyhall (665610) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061863)

I realise I only answered the later of your two questions!

Forgive me.

For your laptop/screen setup, if that's all you can have, I'd raise the laptop (stack of books works well) so the top is in-line with the top of your main screen. Put it to the left (or right, whichever feels best) and have your big screen central.

Your neck will thank you in the long-run. :) (Left/right turns are easier than up/down, I strongly believe.)

As others have said - get a USB keyboard and mouse (£10 online).

get a second desktop monitor. (1)

happyjack27 (1219574) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061853)

having two desktop monitors will significantly increase your productivity.
i have three. they all get plenty of use.

Re:get a second desktop monitor. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43061919)

Make them awesome swivelly ultrasharps or similar if you can.

Re:get a second desktop monitor. (2)

Malc (1751) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062075)

Or don't have such a tiny laptop! I have a 17" MacBook Pro, which I realise isn't for everybody, but it makes for an awesome machine in a great form factor. I can work on it productively out of the office and it doesn't break my back cycling to and from work like most equivalent PCs do. In the office it's hooked up to a 24" screen too.

Reams of paper (1)

Dillenger69 (84599) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061855)

If you are in an office setting, reams of paper make excellent monitor stands and are in plentiful supply.
That having been said. I'd also recommend a real keyboard and mouse with the laptop off to the side.

Re:Reams of paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43061893)

I kid you not - but we were prohibited from doing this at my last place of work on the grounds of Health and Safety - it allegedly constituted a fire risk.

Get yourself a copy of Winplit Revolution (1)

second_coming (2014346) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061875)

http://winsplit-revolution.com/ [winsplit-revolution.com]

Makes working with a large screen and multiple windows so much nicer.

Re:Get yourself a copy of Winplit Revolution (2)

mrvan (973822) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061955)

Or get a "real" os with tiling window management. I am using xubuntu+xmonad and it is the best thing since electronic transistors!

Re:Get yourself a copy of Winplit Revolution (1)

second_coming (2014346) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061977)

What constitutes a real OS then? Or are you just trolling?

A big monitor and ... (1)

MpVpRb (1423381) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061879)

I use a big (30" 2560x1600) monitor, a standard keyboard and mouse, and a tower computer box on the floor

When I absolutely must be mobile, I use a laptop

I despise the thing, and try very hard to avoid it

flip the laptop screen completely back.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43061883)

like horizontal position so you can use your monitor.. but I assume your laptop can't do that.. so your problem is shitty laptop!

personal preference (1)

updatelee (244571) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061887)

I used to develop software for a living now I just do it for fun.

I used to use a laptop as well because I was to and from the office alot, probably 40% office, 40% home, and 20% elsewhere. I only actually used the laptop keyboard/video/mouse when I wasnt at home or office though. The rest of the time It was defn far better to have a full sized quality keyboard/mouse and two monitors.

One screen was for the IDE and the other is where the application ran, I found it alot easier to debug with this setup. But its personal preference.

There are literally wall mounts everywhere now days, all screens are VESA compatible mounts now days. You can goto walmart and buy them even.

UDL

No-brainer. Got same problem, solved it thusly: (1)

vikingpower (768921) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061889)

1) set up your laptop to show the Desktop on the large screen

1a) important screens ( code, compiler, text to read from screen ) on the large one, unimportant ones ( logs, system perf monitors, whatever ) on the laptop

2) use a real keyboard and mouse

3) you will work on the large, main screen, and watch occasionally to your right for logs, sys perfs etc.

Benq? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43061903)

Why do you have to name the brand of the monitor?

Setup (1)

Horshu (2754893) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061925)

At home, I have a single 24", but I am about to go a more ideal two 24's. I consider that ideal because I am not programming full speed, and I have a television to the side as a "3rd" monitor.
At work, I have two 19" screens, but my preference would be three of them (preferably with a single widescreen), so that I have an IDE window, a debugging window to play the app, and then a third screen for browsing or other OS-packaged apps.

2 reams of paper (1)

jdkc4d (659944) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061933)

What Kind of neo flex stand? Is it one where it only holds the monitor, or does it hold the laptop too? If it only holds the monitor, just put a couple reams of paper under the stand. Every office has a few of those laying around.

Multiple monitors (1)

karnowski (313582) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061951)

In my current job I have four 20 inch monitors in a 2x2 square. Active apps (Eclipse and browser) go in the bottom two. Less active apps (email and SQL client) up the top. It will be very hard for me to go back to one or two monitors. If an employer isn't willing to provide your most productive set up then it's a sign to keep away from them.

Re:Multiple monitors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43061985)

In bATMAN, they had 500monitors arranged in a 304x75 square!

Re: Multiple monitors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43062295)

You have essentially built a 4k monitor. If only it was one big screen to get rid of the hard breaks down the middle!

Phone book. Next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43061959)

Get yourself a phone book, put it under the monitor stand. Congratulations, you've just discovered what phonebooks are still good for.

FWIW I keep my terminal open on the laptop screen (same terminal on all virtual desktops) and then have the large screen for my various other programs.

2 nice regular monitors, and VNC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43061961)

when I need to access anything else. So VNC into the laptop.

Using a laptop for programming?? (0)

Tim Ward (514198) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061963)

Crap display, crap keyboard, crap mouse replacement, low main memory, small slow hard disk. (Unless you've got a solid state disk.)

Just use a real computer, you know you want to.

Re:Using a laptop for programming?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43062055)

You make a lot of assumptions about the laptop. The only thing that can be determined from the information provided that the laptop isn't holding the programmer back. If the programmer can't logically figure out the obvious stated by the first few responses, the laptop isn't the problem.

Rotate your monitors (1)

Coryoth (254751) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061975)

I got provided with 2 24" widescreen monitors, which gives pemty of screen real-estate, but makes for very wide anglew viewing. After a period of frustration with panning my eyes across the width of them I realised I could orient them vertically since they were on rotatable mounts. This turned out to be great -- the extra height fits more lines of code on screen at a time, and works nicely dual screen. I reccomend such a setup to anyone.

Be thankful if you DON'T need a KVM (1)

digitalaudiorock (1130835) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061981)

Sorry if this hijacks the posters question a little...but it's the first thing that came to mind when I saw the topic. I'm not sure if others have found the same, but in cases where I've needed a KVM, including my current setup at home, I've spent what seems like man years of my life screwing with KVMs. A KVM that does NOT totally suck is an animal that does NOT exist.

My current setup works with many quirks that constantly screw with me, and it took forever to get to this point. I went through two KVMs that were totally unusable for various reasons...stuck keys in Linux only(??)...you name it. When I finally got one that seemed to play nicely I discovered that it didn't work with my T43 Thinkpad docking station. I found other users that had encountered the same issue with this switch ONLY on the T43 docking station...unbelievable. Believe it or not, just for the hell of it, I tried putting one of the bad KVMs (that I'd kept too long to return) in between my working one and the T43 and it worked...only because the two switches used different hot keys. That's the kludgy setup I have to this day.

However that setup is all PS2, so now that I'm overdue to replace my Linux workstation, I get to do it all over again, or figure out how to live without the KVM. Seriously...has anyone else found this things to suck this bad???

Re:Be thankful if you DON'T need a KVM (3, Informative)

Jaruzel (804522) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062249)

I know your pain. I've been through many problematic KVMs. :(

However, I've recently bought one of these:

http://www.aten.co.uk/products/productItem.php?model_no=CS682 [aten.co.uk]

Works wonderfully, between my docked Dell Laptop (work machine) and my no-brand tower desktop (personal machine). Monitor is a Dell 24" ultrasharp, keyboard is a dell branded one, and mouse is a Logitech MX518.

This KVM just 'works' - I really am impressed with it. Hotkey is scroll-lock twice plus enter, which is an extra keypress compared to other KVMs I've used, but never fails to switch. It even comes with a proper button on a cable should you wish to use that instead of the hot-key combo.

Hope this helps.

-Jar

Vertical Dell U2412MB (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43061989)

I work from home, and I use a vertical 24" monitor (connected to my laptop) where I can see around 135 lines of code at a glance. This is my monitor: Dell U2412MB, priced $370: http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?s=bsd&sku=320-2676 [dell.com] Whenever I want to see a movie, I can rotate the monitor back to horizontal position.

First things first (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | about a year and a half ago | (#43061997)

You want to take care of your main screen first (you'll thank me later). It should be about level with your eyes for good posture, and not too close. I'm using a logitech mk605 laptop stand, but any will do. Or you could swap your secondary and main screen. Get external keyboard and mouse anyway, they are always much better than laptops'.

There's this old story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43062007)

I forget the source (might have been Sharky's blog), but it was about a guy who liked to ride his bike to work. The problem was that once it got cold out, his hands got too cold. So he decided to build a system that would heat the handgrips of his bike to keep his hands warm. Of course, he ran into all kinds of trouble, and even when he got it fixed, it didn't really keep his hands warm very well. Then one day he was complaining about it, and someone asked, "Why don't you just wear gloves?"

Sometimes the solution is so obvious it's hard to see. Use a separate keyboard and mouse so you can put the laptop off to the side.

Mobile Pro Mount (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43062009)

I am a programmer as well and had the exact same issue and I purchased a Mobile Pro mount from Apple for my Mac Book Pro and my Dell 27" monitor. The monitor mount uses standard VESA mounting hardware. Here is the link: http://store.apple.com/us/product/TY174LL/A/bretford-mobilepro-desk-mount-combo. This still does not make it one on top of the other, but it will bring the laptop screen up to the same height as the monitor so you can use an external keyboard and mouse.

Monitor Stand = Five Perl books. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43062023)

Not good for much else.

Close the laptop (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062033)

First, get a USB keyboard and mouse that you can plug into the laptop (directly or via a hub), so you don't need to use the laptop's keyboard and trackpad. Then set up your display configuration to duplicate the desktop on both monitors. Now you can close or almost close the laptop and slide it under the monitor, or off to one side, out of the way while you work. Alternatively you can extend your desktop across both monitors, set the 27" monitor to be your main display and use the laptop's screen as a secondary monitor. This second option gives you the advantage of being able to set the 27" monitor to a higher resolution than the laptop's screen would support.

Use laptop for dedicated tasks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43062035)

When I had a similar two monitor setup (laptop screen and large monitor), I used the monitor for my primary display and set the laptop screen for dedicated tasks. In my case, I used the laptop screen for my terminal sessions. If you use the smaller screen for always-on or dedicated tasks and switch your attention to it when you need it, it works a lot better that way.

Bad ergonomics (2)

pipatron (966506) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062047)

Placing the large monitor higher up will give you a real crappy working position, pretty much the opposite of the most natural, which is to look slightly down on the screen. Do what everyone else told you, use a dock for the laptop and have a real keyboard and mouse.

Re:Bad ergonomics (1)

bipbop (1144919) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062237)

This is the point I came here to make. Looking to the side all the time is bad, but so is looking up all the time!

The OP needs to solve a different problem.

Ask Slashdot: Monitor Setup For Programmers (1)

magicglean (1147617) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062053)

HEY! since you're in an office... try a couple of A4 stacks.. that did the trick for me.//

Inexpensive USB keyboard (1)

microTodd (240390) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062063)

The solution I recommend, which is how my desk is setup, is incredibly simple. A USB keyboard and mouse. Less than $50. Now make the big monitor your main desktop. Piece of cake.

I'm trying to understand this question. It seems really simple. Is there something I'm missing here?

Just sort it out. (4, Funny)

seyyah (986027) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062065)

Just sort it out man.

Get the laptop out of the way (1)

CockMonster (886033) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062069)

My laptop is fairly powerful in all aspects except for the utterly useless for programming 1366x768 screen. I got a 27" monitor that supports up to 2560x1440, 'borrowed' and old USB keyboard and mouse from work, put the laptop on a chair next to where the montior sits (I don't have room for a desk). That's it, make sure the air ducts of the laptop aren't blocked and the only time you'll need to touch it is to turn it on. Put the laptop screen onto the lowest power setting too!

The not so obvious answer (4, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062111)

Well, all have answerd how you can do it, I have karma to burn so here is the not so obvious answer:
You are an idiot and should not be programming. If you can not think outside the box (Get it? Box?) then you are obvious not able to do so when programming demands it.
So the obvious answer would be to get a new job.

Newstar has plenty of monitor arms (1)

otuz (85014) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062125)

I use one of these [newstar.eu] and I'm happy with it, but there are plenty of different models available for various different uses.

Keep it simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43062127)

Dell XPS15 1920x1080 display, with QtCreator splitting the screen in half, and 4 virtual desktops in KDE (I usually only need 2). When I need additional screens it's usually because I need to do something in another operative system (Windows or another Linux distro), in which case I'll use another laptop standing up besides my main laptop, and share mouse+keyboard using synergy.

Pro-tip (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43062133)

Trade your laptop in for an 80's era Compaq "portable" with 6" CRT that supports 80x25 text-mode only.

Otherwise, complain less; code more.

tie-wraps (0)

ls671 (1122017) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062135)

I remove the stands and just hang my second row of monitors to the wall with tie-wraps and use rolls of toilet paper between the wall and the monitors to adjust the angle. It works great.

Don't use the laptop screen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43062141)

I have the same problem. I turn the laptop screen off and put it flat, so I can still use the keyboard, and just use the large monitor directly in front of me. The laptop screen will be far to low for good ergonomic use anyway and if the large screen is above it it'll be too high.

Use whatever's handy (1)

dl107227 (632747) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062153)

I have a similar setup with my large monitor above my laptop monitor. I have the big monitor sitting atop a stack of old catalogs. I hadn't even considered shopping around for a solution but I'm not very uptight about the tidiness of my desk (massive understatement).

Best Monitor Stand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43062187)

Books you've read and won't likely read again. It shows off your literary prowess to anyone who visits your workstation, and you know, elevates your monitor.

Dual Monitors and ditch the laptop screen (2)

KevinH456 (564212) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062203)

At home, and at my last job, I had dual 24" monitors attached to a laptop. At my current job, I have two monitors on a desk mount with a desktop pc. I found that two large monitors in front of my face with a real keyboard and mouse is the best setup. I use the laptop screen as kind of an "auxiliary" monitor. I put things that distract me over there.

Build it! (3, Interesting)

kimanaw (795600) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062235)

Timely post. I've been struggling w/ the same situation, and just wandered around HomeDepot awhile until I found the parts. I looked for an actual storebought solution, but didn't find anything that can support 27" monitors.

(Long version)

I've been working from home for 15+ years, big laptop on a big lapdesk, in a recliner. Decadent, yes, but productive.

About 6 months ago, I built myself a standup workstation to force me off my big arse, and added a 27" monitor above my 18.5" laptop. Loved it: more screen, felt more awake, back felt much better (highly recommend the standup to anyone having weight/back/etc issues from sitting all day)

Then I started jogging on the treadmill 30-45min a day. For all its great benefits, working at the standup tired my legs before my jog, so I went back to the recliner, but missed the 2nd screen. So I took another spin around HomeDepot and grabbed some parts and built what I needed...though it took several iterations.

Hints: don't use cheap aluminum braces, the weight of the monitor torques it too much. I'm picking up a beefy steel brace today. Unless your stand will be attached to some other furniture, and be fairly short, use metal (1.5" conduit or similar), rather than wood for the poles. I used a wooden closet rod, and it definitely bends a bit. I've been able to compensate, but will probably upgrade to metal in future.

And as a base for the whole. thing, look for a hefty patio umbrella stand. I happened to have an old one lying around that does the trick, but it may need more weight.

This probably sounds like a lot more effort than you had in mind, but sometimes the best solution is homebrewed.

Just 2 Weeks Ago... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43062245)

http://ask.slashdot.org/story/13/02/14/1832235/ask-slashdot-what-is-your-favorite-monitor-for-programming

Use a keyboard with a built in usb hub (1)

Angturil (1276488) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062255)

I use a g15, and plug in my mouse into one of the ports, so only one cable to plug into laptop. I also make the external monitor the "main", and only use the laptop monitor for command prompts, output windows, tests, etc. When you're on the road, your laptop monitor becomes the main

4k (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43062281)

1- 28" 4k monitor. If only I could buy one!

FROST PIST (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43062287)

If you m0ve a table RIVALRY. WHILE work that you a sad world. At Same worthless if you don't reciprocating bad anybody's guess

Get a dock (1)

BulletMagnet (600525) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062315)

Hopefully the laptop they provided you isn't some undockable consumer version unit but a business class unit that can be - Dell's laptop docks for their business class laptops can support two monitors, and I would assume HP's can to. Get a real keyboard, mouse, dock, use the 27 as the primary, and if you feel like it, get another monitor as a secondary.

Slightly OT: The importance of a good setup (1)

Qbertino (265505) | about a year and a half ago | (#43062319)

After quite some hefty turmoil in the last few months I downgraded my long-term lifestyle expectancies a bit and took on a job as a web-developer (LAMP, HTML5/CSS3/Ajax - the whole lot). The job pays 10000 Euros less than my last one but is in a neat small company building and maintaining PHP applications for a boring but solid vertical market. ... Anyway: The the companies boss has a policy of providing a top-grade work environment. I got a brand new 27" iMac - we (5 employees, 2 part-time freelancers) all are using either 27" iMacs or MacBooks with 27" Tunderbolt displays, we all have topg-grade Duo-Back Chairs and, this is a very good thing I've come to notice in the 2 weeks I'm there - we all have a desk that can change its height electrically. With the simple push of a button we can raise our desks to standing height, which is a huge plus when your stitting in front of the computer 8,5 hrs a day. Have a little presentation or demo-discussion for one or two co-workers? Raise your desk to standing height and all gather around for little stand-in. ... I actually find it fun to work at the office.

Bottom line: Better work environments pay off almost instantly. If you want to do some good, you'll try and get this across to your boss.

My 2 cents.

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