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Using Two Monitors Makes You More Productive?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the it's-all-about-the-screen-real-estate dept.

Displays 602

Double Vision asks: "In my job, I work with several software applications at once. I find that constantly switching back and forth wastes a tremendous amount of time and causes me to lose focus. My video card supports two monitors, so I found a discarded monitor in my office and hooked it up. This has made it much easier to do my job. However, we are getting ready to go through an equipment audit, which means I will likely lose my additional monitor unless I can justify keeping it. How can I make this case? Is anyone aware of studies that support my claim that two monitors makes me more productive?"

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Just tell them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18632687)

Inform your manager of your productivity with the new monitor.
It they they let you keep the monitor, fine.
If they do not it's their loss.
Better yet if they say no, find a better company to work for.

Trivial ? (4, Interesting)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632697)

Monitors are cheap. Dirt cheap compared to the salaries of most people sitting in front of them.



If you merely spend five additional minutes on work each day that you would have had to spend on shuffling windows around, the investment in an additional monitor will pay for itself within weeks.

Re:Trivial ? (5, Insightful)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632745)

Dirt cheap compared to the salaries

That really depends on where you work; there are a lot of shitbox companies around there that pay the minimum amount to put food on the programmer's table. A lot of managers don't think of "if we spend this we'll save twice that" they think "if we spend this we immediately reduce the bottom line by the same amount, fuck that!"

Re:Trivial ? (5, Insightful)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632805)

A lot of managers don't think of "if we spend this we'll save twice that" they think "if we spend this we immediately reduce the bottom line by the same amount, fuck that!"

Well, that's the bad thing about capitalism today - it's been replaced by blind greed and short-term thinking. The term "investment" (the basis of all capital) is pretty much forgotten. Instead, "investing" money is considered "spending" it.

Re:Trivial ? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18633319)

Instead, "investing" money is considered "spending" it.
And speculating is considered "investing" -- have you seen Wall Street lately?

Re:Trivial ? (4, Insightful)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632763)

Wrong, when audited, you can't compare a hidden benefit with a visible cost, no matter how positive it might eventually be.
An old french playwritter, Molière, has one of its characters say it is better to die according to the medecine than to live against it. You can also check todays post about outsourcing for more examples.

Hidden ? Obvious. (5, Insightful)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632783)

Wrong, when audited, you can't compare a hidden benefit with a visible cost, no matter how positive it might eventually be.

If your salary is $50 an hour, then every second you spend on unproductive things becomes a very visible cost, especially if those seconds add up.

If the bean-counters at the company don't see that, they're effectively incompetent. Which usually points to bad prospects for the future of the company.

Re:Hidden ? Obvious. (5, Insightful)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633011)

I disagree, wasted time is a cost, but it is not visible one, I would even say it is the best example of hidden cost since it has a real effect on your productivity but doesn't show on beancounter's charts because it doesn't change your salary.

Re:Hidden ? Obvious. (1)

midnighttoadstool (703941) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633277)

That's all very platitudinous, but you haven't actually addressed the guy's argument.

Re:Hidden ? Obvious. (5, Funny)

kalirion (728907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633381)

If your salary is $50 an hour, then every second you spend on unproductive things becomes a very visible cost, especially if those seconds add up.

So how much money has Slashdot cost your company?

Re:Hidden ? Obvious. (5, Funny)

Bacon Bits (926911) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633643)

So how much money has Slashdot cost your company?

Not much, I got two monitors!

Salary per hour? Not really! (5, Insightful)

dereference (875531) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633535)

If your salary is $50 an hour, then every second you spend on unproductive things becomes a very visible cost, especially if those seconds add up.
Your fallacy is highlighted above. Most "employees" are not paid by the hour. Contractors, who are paid by the hour, simply don't complain about unproductive work conditions provided at their environment by their customers. They'll happily take the extra time required to do their job with the tools at hand; it's the capitalist way, after all.

My guess is that you've simply conflated two issues. You've forgotten that any employee on a salary will simply be expected to put in overtime to compensate for any inefficiencies. It costs the company exactly $0.00 for a salaried employee to simply "waste" those precious extra seconds that you claim will add up. They add up to nothing but more "free" hours put in by our protagonist for the company served.

If the bean-counters at the company don't see that, they're effectively incompetent. Which usually points to bad prospects for the future of the company.
The bean-counters know exactly what they're doing. They're extracting more value (your time) from you at no cost. That free productivity (salaried--unpaid to the employee--overtime) looks great on the balance sheet, compared to the price of an extra monitor. If you can't see that, I think you might need to re-evaluate the target of your insults.

Re:Hidden ? Obvious. (1)

Canthros (5769) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633577)

A salary isn't really by the hour, of course. If you're salaried, you get paid the same, no matter how many hours you work. The to this argument is not that it will save money, but that you can do more. Unfortunately, the increase in productivity needs demonstration.

Re:Trivial ? (1, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632905)

Well, say it takes 5 seconds to switch between applications. Say you do that 10 times an hour. Add in the information that you need to see in one application vs another, with, say, 60 seconds of time to do so, which happens 4 times a day. That's 640 seconds per day, or an additional 10 minutes of productivity. With a cheap CRT costing 50 bucks, the productivity gain on the above lightest-case scenario pays for itself in the first week easily.

And if they still won't let you have it, just pick one up off the street and bring it in from home. Mark it as personal hardware, and tell the bean counters to sod off.

Re:Trivial ? (4, Insightful)

ePhil_One (634771) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633327)

Wrong, when audited, you can't compare a hidden benefit with a visible cost, no matter how positive it might eventually be.

Don't make it a hidden benefit. Quantify how much time it saves, you don't need big numbers. Can you demonstrate a 5 minute per day benefit? (10 seconds a windows switch, thats just 30 switches a day). Thats 100 minutes a month. In 6 months, thats 600 minutes, or 10 hours. Now your company almost certainly has an internal billing rate they use when considering your time (even better if they have an external rate), its likely at least 2x your current salary (it costs to hire you, house you, train you, etc. You are an expensive asset). Lets say you are a young average programmer, thats still a $50/hour internal billing rate. So long as your second monitor costs less than $500, it pays for itself in 6 months.

More productive? (0, Offtopic)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632705)

Probably not more productive but twice the pr0n viewing pleasure.

That's what I'm talking about!

Here's a study (5, Informative)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632721)

After a bit of Googlin':
Two Screens Are Better Than One [microsoft.com]

The best part is that it was done by Slashdot's nemesis. :)

Re:Here's a study (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18632877)

Apple had a study done on the use of large monitors as well. The results are here [pfeifferreport.com] . Jakob Nielson didn't like the methodology, but still explained some of the productivity impacts [useit.com] .

Basically, figure out how much what you want costs, and then argue that it makes you x% more productive where x is a percent of your salary higher than the cost of what you want. Then it becomes a cost-saving measure.

Re:Here's a study (2, Informative)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633001)

I think having two monitors is totally unnecessary, simply because they make very big single monitors now. Many of my co-workers have gotten the Apple 30" monitor, which has more screen real-estate than two 1600x1200 screens put together, and no big black line down the middle. It's almost too big, you have to turn your head to cover the whole thing.

Re:Here's a study (5, Insightful)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633221)

1) Many OSes don't tile windows well. To have two windows properly tiled on a single monitor, you need to minimize everything but those windows and then choose to tile all nonminimized windows. (At least this is my experience with Windows XP) It's faster to just drag one app to your second monitor and maximize it.

2) The aspect ratio of a single 16:9 screen doesn't fit two 4:3 screens well. While for editing Word documents this is not a bad thing (and could be good in fact), for editing PowerPoint documents, images, and Excel spreadsheets, dual 4:3 is better.

3) Moderate sized 4:3 flat panel displays cost a fraction of the price of an Apple 30" display. The Apple 30" display is $1500-2000, 19" 4:3 displays are $200-250 each.

4) Most workers already have their first monitor. Adding a second is cheaper than chucking it and buying a large widescreen, even if that large widescreen were remotely competitive for these purposes with dual 19s in price.

I have a second monitor in my cube, but it's an old beat-up CRT and I don't have the desk space to use it. :(

Re:Here's a study (5, Insightful)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633311)

Speaking as someone currently using two 17" monitors, I think two monitors is better.

1. 30" monitors cost a *lot* more than two 17" monitors. Like, £1000 more.
2. 2560x1600 isn't as good as 3200x1200, IMO. The 30" monitor is too tall, I prefer something wider and flatter.
3. My monitors are arranged to surround me, rather than forming a flat panel. This means I'm looking at them close to straight whether I'm looking in the middle or either edge. With a single big monitor, I'd have to have them flat, and would be viewing them significantly off-straight at the edges.
4. With multiple monitors, software can be manipulated easily to take up exactly half of the display (using the maximize buttons), which is useful when you are using exactly 2 applications -- something I do regularly (e.g. IDE for development and web browser for reference). I don't believe achieving this is easy with a single large display.

Re:Here's a study (1)

CDarklock (869868) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633275)

Actually, a lot of us here read Slashdot. It's just that only a tiny minority have the flame resistance to post on it.

Always (5, Insightful)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632725)

I had two monitors on my desk for a long time. One eventually got bad enough they replaced it with a flat panel. The new panel was so good that I couldn't use the remaining CRT (and also, my eyes were fucked as a result of the shitty old CRT they wouldn't replace sooner).

Long story short, I ditched the second CRT and they wouldn't replace it. My productivity dropped enormously. I actually found it most beneficial to have email, a browser or some documentation for the toolkits I was using open in fullscreen on the second display. It made finding a reference a simply matter of glancing across rather than bringing up another window, losing the context of what I was doing then having to do the shuffle back and forward.

Not only that, but I save on printing because I can keep things open on the second screen for reference like the output of a program working on. The same applies to anyone who is expected to multi-task at work though. Two screens are better than one unless the one screen is a 30" high resolution panel.

I don't know how anyone wrote software back in the days before dual high resolution screens. It's a time consuming chore, requiring a number of dead tree tomes open on one's desk and constant shuffling about.

Re:Always (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18632863)

I had a CRT that I was running at 1600x1200. They gave me an LCD that was about the same size but 1280x1024 resolution (they didn't bother to get anyone's input on replacing all the monitors in the office). I refused to give up my CRT, so I had both the CRT and LCD. At first, I kept the CRT as my main monitor at 1600x1200 and LCD as a secondary monitor. But the LCD looked so much better and was so much easier on my eyes that I had to switch to it as my main monitor. Then I eventually switched the CRT to 1280x1024 to match the LCD.

Now I am running dual 1280x1024. I am no way near as productive as I was at 1600x1200. Occasionally I will work from home on my large 1600x1200 LCD and I am more productive than I am at work with the dual monitors. Although I have found in IDE's like Eclipse or VS.Net you can move panels onto your second monitor and that is nice, but being able to view code on a 1600x1200 is so much better.

To this day I curse their decision. Hopefully their next monitor purchase for me will be a 24" LCD.

Dual monitors would make me more productive as long as they are both the same high resolution (1600x1200 or better).

Re:Always (2, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633257)

"I don't know how anyone wrote software back in the days before dual high resolution screens."

Simple - we had both a vga and a monochrome monitor hooked up to the same computer (vga video + hercules mono). Borlands' compilers, dbase, etc. all supported the /dual command-line switch. Also, you could switch monitors manually "mode co80" "mode mono" . Use ansi.sys to assign each string to a function key, and switching monitors was a 1-keystroke operation.

It was nice to be able to step through your source on one monitor while watching the output on the other. Or hae a batch file display the passwords on the mono monitor, then launch a game on the vga (anyone remember "Death Track"? :-).

So yes, there's a couple of decades to back up the assertion that dual monitors are better.

Re:Always (1)

justthinkit (954982) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633295)

I don't know how anyone wrote software back in the days before dual high resolution screens.

Answer: MultiEdit [multiedit.com] .

Seriously, what the heck is wrong with using a text editor to program? Ok, maybe I'm biased because I'm so old I am genetically incapable of learning OOP but shouldn't 100 files open at once be enough for anyone?

Re:Always (1)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633529)

I don't know how you think that addresses the GP's needs. I use the split features of vim, KDE's multiple desktops, KDevelop or Eclipse, etc. But it simply doesn't compare to having the API reference on one monitor and your editor in the other, or any number of similar situations where you want to be able to look at two things without switching back and forth constantly.

Re:Always (1)

ec_hack (247907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633523)

I don't know how anyone wrote software back in the days before dual high resolution screens.
We used paper tape or punch cards. If we were lucky, there was a line editor available on the TSO (Time Sharing Option) terminals. Getting one compile a day makes you very, very cautious and detail oriented in your programmming.

Besides, it's a great feeling when you can take an offending block of code out of the deck and rip it to shreds

Re:Always (1)

Znork (31774) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633705)

"I don't know how anyone wrote software back in the days before dual high resolution screens."

There was no internet so all documentation was on dead trees, and all the mail as well.

If you need to demonstrate the point, set up a script to automatically print all your mail and simply print and/or request all documentation in book form.

Forget extra monitors (0)

nagora (177841) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632737)

Unless you are actually needing to see more things at the same time, extra monitors are a waste of desk space and electricity. Get some virtual desktops set up and connect them to your function keys (or alt-function keys). If you then only open any given app on the same virtual desktop you can jump back and forth very quickly. I been using WindowMaker this way for years, with each virtual desktop having its own dock of applications so I know I'll always, for example, open Inkscape on desktop/fn key #4, and Opera on #2 etc. I assume the same or similar thing can be done on Windows and the Mac.

TWW

Re:Forget extra monitors (4, Insightful)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632761)

Unless you are actually needing to see more things at the same time, extra monitors are a waste of desk space and electricity.

I supposed you don't need to look at data sheets while you program. Sure, you don't need to see the IDE and the datasheet at the same time, but just switching between the two fullscreen apps on a single monitor costs you more than enough time, since you lose track of what was in the old window and need to orient yourself in the new window.

Re:Forget extra monitors (4, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632813)

Virtual desktops have several advantages compared to real ones:

  • Switching latency: it's much slower to mash the keyboard to switch desktops than to move one's eye.
  • Simultaneous typing: you can't enter text in one window on a virtual desktop while simultaneously viewing a window on a different virtual desktop; I do this all the time on my dual-monitor setup when looking at API documentation.
  • Spanning: although it's ugly, spanning windows across both heads comes in handy more often than you'd think, especially for badly-written pages or images with strange aspect ratios.
  • More space for monitors: with more _real_ desktop space, you have more space to put various useful sticky windows. For example, I have gkrellm instances monitoring our servers sticky on my left monitor; with a single-head setup, I'd have to leave the monitors on just one of the desktops, which would defeat the point of constant monitoring.

Re:Forget extra monitors (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633387)

I think you mean ^advantage^disadvantage

Re:Forget extra monitors (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632825)

Unless you are actually needing to see more things at the same time, extra monitors are a waste of desk space and electricity.

But what about those of us whose work does involve seeing more things at the same time?

At work, a lot of us have been picking up older screens to use as second monitors over the past year or so. This was mostly luck, rather than a management decision: someone noticed that the standard-issue graphics cards in one generation of PCs we had included two output ports, and tried it out with an old 17" CRT that was otherwise sitting idle.

Among other times this is useful for us in our everyday work:

  • code vs. on-line help
  • debugger vs. running program
  • documentation tool vs. whatever is being documented (code, UI, etc.)
  • diff tools (see full-width code lines side by side, one on each screen).

I could list many more, but those are fairly typical examples of things we do a lot during the course of our development jobs. It's not hard to imagine applications either: anything involving applications with lots of toolbars and such (graphics, CAD) must be a good candidate.

I don't have any quantitative data, but having made the switch myself a few months ago, I definitely spend a lot less time messing around changing windows and arranging desktops than I used to. The only annoyance is that I sometimes switch to look at the other screen without making the application there active, and then start typing. :-/

Re:Forget extra monitors (2, Funny)

computational super (740265) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633143)

diff tools (see full-width code lines side by side, one on each screen).

Well, for now, anyway. Give programmers a couple of years of working with two monitors at 1600x1200 resolution apiece, and they'll just start sticking 5000 characters to a line. You'll need four monitors to see the diffs side-by-side.

Programming typography (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633371)

I actually had your post down as interesting rather than funny, but in any case, I doubt it will ever happen.

As anyone involved with typography and graphic design can tell you, the length of text lines that humans can read comfortably is pretty short. Guidelines vary, some based around numbers of alphabets set at a typical reading size, some more formally expressed in terms of angles through which the eyes move. The end results are fairly consistent, though: on a modern 19" monitor, with a full-screen window open, at a typical resolution of say 1280x960, and with the user sitting at a typical distance from the screen, the text is already far too wide for most people to read it optimally.

Now, programmers perhaps suffer less from this than those working with ordinary text documents, because most programming languages use some form of indentation to represent things like block structure. Thus the lines within any given block -- those which the programmer will most likely want to read over in sequence -- tend to be shorter. Even so, it's also undesirable to nest too deeply in most programming languages, which limits the effect of this style. So, while old guidelines about 80 character line lengths are rare these days, restricting individual lines to 80 characters between their first and last visible text probably isn't a bad idea.

In other words, I don't think most programmers will ever write lines much longer than they do today, no matter how big monitors get. It will simply be uncomfortable to read them, and therefore they will adopt a different style where lines are broken at natural places, just as mathematicians have long done when typesetting equations.

And yes, this does all have implications for window managers, particularly as widescreen monitors seem to be becoming more popular on both desktops and laptops. I'm slightly surprised that the mainstream hasn't yet given up on the idea of maximising a window to the full screen, and provided some concept of zones, so you can lock a window to fill exactly the left or right half of your monitor, say. Such a viewable area is far more useful on the sort of physical sizes and resolutions that are seen for high-end screens today, for everything from web browsing to editing documents, and even for code on the wider screens.

Re:Programming typography (1)

lazy-ninja (1061312) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633475)

I'm slightly surprised that the mainstream hasn't yet given up on the idea of maximizing a window to the full screen, and provided some concept of zones, so you can lock a window to fill exactly the left or right half of your monitor, say. Such a viewable area is far more useful on the sort of physical sizes and resolutions that are seen for high-end screens today, for everything from web browsing to editing documents

I know this isnt the main stream that you or I are probably used to (or wants to associate with), but AOL's newest (free) platform for broadband (aol openride I think it is called) users does pretty much that. It breaks the screen in to 4 parts, Web browser, email, buddy list, multimedia/file browser.

Re:Forget extra monitors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18633385)

I actually don't see that happening. I'm a developer and I have two 1600x1200 LCD panels. I don't use really long lines because even with this setup it's still not enough room to fit everything I do at once into the available screen space.

Re:Forget extra monitors (4, Informative)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632925)

I don't agree. I use two monitors AND virtual desktops. It's much more productive to be able to refer to things on one display while you are working on the other. While virtual desktops are handy for some things, such as working on separate projects, they are not a replacement for two monitors. When I'm on my laptop (single screen obviously) I find myself constantly flipping desktops, min/maxing windows, etc. which is annoying. A single monitor can be as productive as two if it's huge, like one of those 30" displays. Even then, my two 21" flat panels give me more physical display area for a fraction of the price of the 30" displays. My two LCDs also use less energy than one crt, and that minimal electricity usage is made up for in increased productivity.

Re:Forget extra monitors (3, Insightful)

jamesh (87723) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632937)

It kinda goes without saying that having 2 monitors when you only really need one is a waste.

An advantage of 2 physical displays is that instead of printing a design spec or whatever to a printer, you can just open it up in the second display and start coding. I'm not sure how many pages you'd have to not print to offset the manufacture and running costs of a second monitor though...

Re:Forget extra monitors (2, Informative)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633309)

Unless you are actually needing to see more things at the same time, extra monitors are a waste of desk space and electricity

It sounds like you have never actually used two monitors at once. It's only about 10,000,000% better than virtual desktops.

Re:Forget extra monitors (1)

Brian_TheIAMdude (1084969) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633695)

Sorry, but dual monitors did make me a lot more efficient. I'm not a programmer, but a User account and User access administrator. I manage probably 25K to 35K user accounts across about 25 different network applications, and the extra monitor work wonders. A fellow contractor left and my PC had two video ports on the motherboard. So I snagged the now unused monitor and rearranged my desk so that I could have both 17" CRTs going at once. I didn't ask my manager first I just did it. Reason 1: Duh! Dual monitors! Reason 2: Desktop couldn't come by and reclaim the 2nd monitor if it was in use. My manager was so impressed with the setup that she put it on a list of things she had to see happen for the department. Well, when I was converted to an employee here at H&R Block and the company moved into our new corporate headquarters we all got shiny new Dell 19" LCD panels on our desks. My boss went to the director and told him about my experience with the 2 CRTs and how much more efficient I was while I had them. She flat out insisted that all of us, employees and contractors alike, in our department, get a second 19" Dell LCD panel. We had the monitors for about a month before our Desktop folks secured the right video cards for our low-profile boxes. Once they got off their rears and got us the video cards, our productivity went way up. Now other departments want the same setup, but they can't justify to their directors why they need them. Our group had no problems justifying the added expense given that each of us manages a huge number of account across several systems. I do move things from time to time, and when I log in on Monday mornings I have to do a bit of rearranging since my VPN connection at home has only has one screen, and so when I log in everything loads on my Primary screen and not the secondary screen. Not a big deal. I could fix it so it would do it, but I just don't care enough to take the time to do it... Yes, I want to replicate the experience I have in the office at home. No, I can't afford to do it, yet...

Did the same thing.. (5, Insightful)

Jearil (154455) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632743)

At my job we had a consultant that worked on the desk behind mine. After he left his computer area was left abandoned, and actually the desk and other parts of it were to go to me for my work area (for some reason my boss felt I needed both a desk and a "writing table"). Anyway, they didn't seem to have any purpose for the computer and monitor on the desk when I asked my supervisor, so I hooked up that second monitor to my machine.

I of course told my supervisor about this, who after hearing the explanation of it thought it was actually a good idea. All I needed to do was write up a justification on why I needed a second monitor, and they let me have it. Justification isn't really that hard, especially if you're a programmer. The ability to have your IDE or editor or whatnot on one screen while viewing the output, documentation, or APIs on another is incredibly useful, and can speed up your work significantly. I'd go and say something like that to whatever supervisor or person in charge of equipment before they got to looking at the equipment at your desk.

Interestingly, after I got my second monitor, a coworker friend of mine came to my desk from the building across the street and saw the setup and was extremely jealous. He ended up finding a spare monitor near his desk for his own setup. After that, all of the people near his desk saw his setup and wanted it to. We actually ended up having some ITS meetings where enough people brought up the idea of dual-monitors that it's now a standard request for people to get with minimal justification. So who knows, maybe you'll start a trend like what happened for me.

Re:Did the same thing.. (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632887)

We recently sold one of our clients (accounting firm) about 100 flat screen displays, quite a few second (or dual) video adapters, and a few computers (to replace ones that couldn't be upgraded) to give their 80 or so users 2 displays each.

Anyone with a laptop now seems to have an additional display hanging off it now too.

It is definitely catching on.

Re:Did the same thing.. (4, Interesting)

acidrain69 (632468) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632915)

I had the same thing. I took a spare CRT, and my boss at the time really liked the setup, so he got me matching 17" LCD's. One of my coworkers also got matching 17's. My old boss now has 4 monitors, 2 19" LCD's, a 17", and a widescreen 24. He only really does work on 2 of them, the 17 is for viewing our internal help desk website for new tickets, and the widescreen is for our camera DVR system. My new boss now has a 19" LCD to connect to his laptop, and we are talking about pushing 2 monitors down to some of the regular non-IT employees in certain positions where they would benefit.

It's nice to work in an environment where people recognize potential productivity increase when they see it. 17" LCDs are cheap now. Easily $150 or less. A spare video card or a dual vid card can be cheap, I spent $35 on the one I use at work.

If you job complains about spending $150 on a long term investment in your productivity, then you should start looking for a new job. Of course, people are giving away CRTs all the time, you could always offer to bring one in. Check freecycle.

In my experience... (5, Interesting)

FredDC (1048502) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632747)

At my previous job I was also using 2 monitors, which definitely made me more productive as I could more easily compare information on different screens.

At my current job I only have 1 monitor and it took me a while to get used to it again. I would ask for a second screen but I already know the answer... "No, because otherwise everyone would want a second screen."

While on my departement, everyone would be better of with having a second screen, the average amount of windows open at the same time is at least 10. It would definitely increase productivity but explaining this to management who at most have their e-mail and text processor open is a lost cause I fear. Well, at least at home I have 2 screens to enjoy.

Also, on a related note, I found synergy [sourceforge.net] to be an amazing tool when using multiple computers at the same time. It allows you to share the same mouse and keyboard between multiple computers by sending the signal over the network and it behaves just as if you had multiple screens on 1 computer (move between screens by going to the side of the screen). I haven't used it for a while though because I didn't have to work on multiple computers at the same time. But if you are, definitely check it out!

Re:In my experience... (2, Informative)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633323)

Synergy is wonderful. Unfortunately, a lot of corporate IT departments will likely frown upon it for security reasons, which is why I never try to use it when I have both my laptop and desktop turned on at work.

Re:In my experience... (2, Interesting)

jbrannon (881627) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633605)

Also, on a related note, I found synergy to be an amazing tool when using multiple computers at the same time. It allows you to share the same mouse and keyboard between multiple computers by sending the signal over the network and it behaves just as if you had multiple screens on 1 computer (move between screens by going to the side of the screen). I haven't used it for a while though because I didn't have to work on multiple computers at the same time. But if you are, definitely check it out!
Amen! I'm currently working on-campus at my college's computer science lab, and I was asked to "see if we want Vista" (that's a whole other topic - not even going to touch that) when they get new boxes this summer. So, they built me a "Vista" box (riiight - 2.4GHz P4, *512MB* RAM, onboard video). I put it right next to my normal work box (WinXPPro) and run synergy on both. Makes life a lot easier - when I want to kill myself, I just move the mouse back onto the XP computer. Then I'm just depressed, not suicidal. ;-)

It's pixel count that really matters (1)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632767)

For years I've been a fervent advocate of multiple monitors, largely because the limited pixel count on any given monitors means that users often maximize applications, so going between documentation and an app, or a helpful webpage and the IDE, etc, is usually one or the other.

Hence the advantage of dual monitors, allowing you to display one or several apps (or tool windows) on one, and the other apps on the other.

I'm reconsidering now, however, and pondering just getting a very high resolution 24" widescreen display, changing my usage to actually keeps windows as windows.

Re:It's pixel count that really matters (1)

Fjan11 (649654) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633253)

It's more than pixel count. On Windows and Mac the user interface makes a windows automatically "raise to front" if it gets input focus, obscuring other windows behind it. If you want to keep view the contents of another window you need to do a resize and move for two windows. If you have two monitors you can put an otherwise obscured window on the second monitor and no resizing is needed. (Of course, this assumes you work on a UI that does auto-raise, not all do)

But then you can't maximize (1)

oni (41625) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633307)

what you can do with multiple monitors that you can't do with one large screen is quickly drag an open window to the second monitor and then maximize it. Those two actions take less than a second. Setting up two windows side-by-side on a single monitor takes much longer. Sure, if you have *only* two windows open then you can tile them. But usually you have a dozen or more windows.

We could fix this by having something like "half maximize"

Dupe? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632773)

Does asking the same question twice mean you get twice the quality of answers? I'm pretty certain I've seen this asked in the last six months.

Re:Dupe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18633191)

Does asking the same question twice mean you get twice the quality of answers? I'm pretty certain I've seen this asked in the last six months.
Yes something like this topic was covered five years ago [slashdot.org] . It is possible that some things might have changed somewhat in that time, so there's no harm in a refresher. Of course, you're always welcome to ignore the article if you don't like it.

3 monitors! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18632775)

We have some consultants at work who use 3 monitors, each filled with windows of various software applications. These are not technical people, they just have (very) good salaries. It's obvious that being able to look at everything you're doing at once rather than switching between partially obscured windows is going to make the task clearer, especially to the graphically-minded individual.

Definitelty more productive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18632781)

I went in a very short space of time from a 15" screen to a 22" and a 19" pair. I'd never go back, and although I'm now able to do more things - for example have reference images open while using Photoshop, watch pr0n while playing a game (Don't lie - you know it's fun) and just not have the bother of limited screen space. I'm no longer tight-fisted with toolbars, as I can have all I need open and still have plenty of space. The only problem is that you can't go back. Whenever I have to use a single display I get annoyed. There's no space left after opening just one program!

Works for me (2, Interesting)

jamesh (87723) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632791)

I spend a reasonable amount of time in RDP (Remote Desktop) sessions to clients MS Windows servers. Things are better these days but a few years ago we had a lot of customers on fairly slow connections, and RDP, being the wonderful protocol it is, wants to redraw whenever you bring it to the front.

So I would connect, log in, then wait for a a minute or two for the screen to draw (remember, I am normally connecting in to solve a problem, so performance is often much worse than normal!) then slowly try and figure out what is going on.

What made it horribly sucky was that I couldn't minimize the RDP window while it did it's thing, otherwise it would just start to redraw again. With a second screen I could just put the RDP session there and let it do its thing!

Just recently I have been porting an older C++ application to C#. I have the source code for each application on each screen, way faster than trying to flip between them on a single screen.

The nice thing is, this works so well _because_ they are two separate screens. Having one screen that was twice as wide just wouldn't be the same (unless it functioned as two screens of course :)

My setup is my 15" laptop display and a 17" CRT, both running 1024x768 resolution. I'm almost thinking I should track down a USB VGA adapter and run a 3rd screen. Performance might suck (being USB instead of PCI) but i wouldn't be doing anything on that display where that was an issue.

Hmmm... here's a more interesting question. At what number of screens does productivity start to drop? I guess the answer will depend on what tasks you are doing but it would sure make an interesting study... I'm imagining 3 screens across and 2 screens high as a starting point :)

Re:Works for me (1)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632893)

Many trading floors (they spend whatever is desired on equipment) usually have no more than 4-6 screens usually deployed in an upside down T or 2x3 array. When you're spending a couple hundred thousand (bare minimum on the trader and at least $50,000 (Bloomberg alone is $20,000) on data services it pays to pay $600 on enough monitors to show all the data services.

If you really think it helps that much (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632799)

If you really think it helps that much, ask them if you can bring in your own monitor. You should be able to find one pretty cheap. I bring in my own trackball to work, because I don't like the mouse they gave me and I had an old trackball lying around that I was more comfortable with. If it doesn't cost them anything, I don't see why they would really refuse. But I work for a small company, so maybe things would be different for a larger corporation.

Don't do that. (2, Insightful)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632827)

If you really think it helps that much, ask them if you can bring in your own monitor.

It's not the employees job to throw money at the company he works for. Unless doing something like that has benefits for you (like not getting carpal tunnel syndrome by using your own mouse), don't do it.

If the bean-counters are too stupid to invest in good working equipment, don't bail them out.

How many already have it, but aren't using it? (1)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632807)

At both my current job and my previous one, we had plenty of people with laptops and docking stations at their desks, complete with CRT or flat panel monitor. At my previous job they seemed stunned when I simply opened up my laptop at the same time and ran dual-desktop between the laptop monitor and the CRT! Worse yet, at my current job the typical docking station had a platform on the top that the CRT sat on, meaning you couldn't open the laptop even if you wanted to. I removed the platform, opened the laptop, and entered dual-desktop nirvana.

Yes (1)

Blackknight (25168) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632821)

Do you work where I do? We're about to do the same thing but our management is smart enough to realize that multiple screens really helps. With two monitors I can keep an eye on our monitoring systems with one and work on the other, it makes keeping track of what's going on MUCH easier.

There's a reason stock traders have so many screens....

Apple funded study (1)

arachnoprobe (945081) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632837)

There is an Apple-funded study about this (PDF): http://images.apple.com/displays/pdf/cinemadisplay 30report.pdf [apple.com]

Peronally, I'll never again go without my dual monitors (20"+17" TFT). I do a lot of writing up/comparing/analysing research data, and by having two monitors it feels at least 20% faster (compared to only 1 screen on my PowerBook.). I could imagine that one big TFT would be equal, but compared by price, dual head is the way to go.

At the moment I'm looking into expanding into a triple-head setup, but as I know so far that would require a new graphics card...

New card? not neccassarily (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633123)

matrox dualhead2go or triple head2go.. look at matrox's site- they are coming out with 'digital' extensions that up the resolution possible..
my main pc theortically, could drive 6 monitors with one card (a quadrofx4500 admittedly)

Very useful indeed (2, Insightful)

Murphy's Paradox (585454) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632847)

My work got all of the 50ish developers and 50ish other staff dual LCD screens (replacing the CRT or adding to the already present LCD). While I can only offer anecdotal evidence, it does come in the form of 100ish people having nothing but positive things to say about the change. It just feels more natural... it lets you free up some of your internal buffer and brain power from 'remembering'. It lets us have the IDE on one screen and the Database on the other (no more switching back and forth to check the spelling)... or the help documents open and accessible... or the debugger and the system.

Two of the more definitive benefits: First in the fact that we can work in any resolution we want, but have to develop for a 1024x768 target system. This means we can set the second monitor up with that hideous resolution to make sure the GUIs/websites/whatever look good without having to constantly readjust the resolution (very good if you are doing web work and can refresh with a click of one button). Second in the fact that we use Remote Desktop to connect to other systems (App/DB servers), so being able to put the app system on one screen of the workstation, we can install and test the system without ever having to touch the Alt key. It also speeds up debugging to have the workstation and DB next to each other so that you can watch changes as they happen. Lastly, and again this is purely anecdotal, I feel more integrated with the work now. I don't have to context switch nearly as often, thus taking my mind off of what I'm doing in order to alt-tab to the right program (possibly taking a dozen seconds if I have too many things open and have to search for the damned thing I need). It just feels more natural... it lets you free up some of your internal buffer and brain power from 'remembering'.

I'd neve go back to a single (1)

BigBuckHunter (722855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632923)

I generally split my monitors into two separate tasks. On the left is my e-mail and productivity apps. On the right, I do my actual work. The other benefit is that our corp environment is windows and our prod environment is RHEL. Depending on which office I am working from, I wither have two computers connected via synergy, or a windows instance on the left and a Linux VM on the right. It's a pleasure to be able to copy a Java stack trace out of k/g/e/term and paste it into an e-mail to a developer in Outlook.

Overall, I feel that two 19" screens make me more productive at work than a single large (24-30") screen.

BBH

Re:I'd neve go back to a single (1)

I_M_Noman (653982) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633503)

On the left is my e-mail and productivity apps. On the right, I do my actual work
Am I the only one who sees the humor in this?

Already standard in many environments (1)

uradu (10768) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632931)

At my company most of IS has standardized on dual displays. I know very few developers that are still slugging it out with a single display. Here the trick is just to justify 1600x1200 versus 1280x1024 panels. I'm happy to say I have two of the former, and I pity the fools who don't. In fact, I could easily see a use for a third, but perhaps that's just getting greedy...

Definitely true... (1)

ranga_the_don (956067) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632939)

I myself have 2 monitors at my workplace, it definitely helps do things faster, even better than having a single huge monitor...

More on this topic can be found here, [microsoft.com] here [freshbooks.com] and here [crn.com] .

I also get time to do other things at office by the time saved :)
some examples are at my blog
http://techniche.blogspot.com/2006/02/some-pics-fr om-my-cubicle-in-office.html [blogspot.com]
http://techniche.blogspot.com/2006/02/expressive-p ictures-of-my-ferrari.html [blogspot.com]
http://techniche.blogspot.com/2007/02/harley-garag e.html [blogspot.com]
http://techniche.blogspot.com/2007/04/and-best-pic ture-from-my-harley-model.html [blogspot.com]

Overlapping windows (1)

seebs (15766) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632943)

My experience, from the amiga and elsewhere, is that the problem is window-shuffling. If you can't have two monitors, use virtual desktops, with no more than one application per screen.

Ion3 ftw.

Re:Overlapping windows (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633505)

If you can't have two monitors, use virtual desktops, with no more than one application per screen.

Just doesn't cut it. For some reason I don't understand, adjusting to the display of a new application when you switch desktops takes substantially longer than moving your eyes from one app to another.

It's a prooven fact... (1)

Hymer (856453) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632945)

...that larger screen area makes you more productive, I can't remember where I read it but there have been at least to studies of the subject, one stated a productivity increase of 80% when going from 15" to 19".
It doesn't however matter how you increase your screen area, two smaller monitors are as good solution as one large (and two small good are better than one lousy large) and you may run two in different resolutions (wich may be the ultimate argument for keeping two monitors).
--
Where I work, I make the rules...

Two! (1)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632977)

I've been using dual monitors for years at home, but I don't have an extra one at work yet. I'm still relatively new, and though many people do have two monitors (and waste them enormously by setting the monitors at some grotesque resolution like 800x600 or 1024x768), I need to get the balls and ask for it.

Just two? (1)

Mongoose (8480) | more than 7 years ago | (#18632989)

In the game industry, I have seen people with 3+ monitors and various machines configurations. Often you'll have one monitor for your IDE and/or debugger and the application or game on the monitor. Then you toss in people monitoring server / client interaction and various game console dev kits for a third+ monitor. The more screens you have the more crap you can observe at once -- it is that simple. Trust me when I say it's easier to test multiplayer bugs with more than one machine -- it's just common sense.

If your employer is like mine... (1)

pci (13339) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633009)

If your employer is anything like mine, spending more money to make me more productive isn't even close to a priority.

We have justified a second monitor about 50 different ways and the answer is always no. In fact they have let us spend enough time justifying the second monitor to have paid for a nice 24" LCD from Dell.

Now the part that really bothers me, some people have laptops, and they are given a monitor "so they don't have to look at that little screen all day." Everyone uses the monitor as a second display, but the director just doesn't see that, oh and the best part is that apparently I don't need a laptop either.

And this isn't the first company I've been to that thinks like this. Repeat after me "you're lucky to work at such a wonderful company"

hah

four (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633051)

Re:four (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633603)

Wow. Your desk is even messier than mine. Congratulations! ;)

We just did this one! (3, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633071)

You're not really productive until you have seven flatscreens suspended around your desk. [wikipedia.org] Only then can you build a 3D virus that will help you break through the firewall of that 1024-bit encryption.

Only 2? I've got 33 monitors at work desk! (1)

Adeptus_Luminati (634274) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633077)

I have 3 of them hooked up to 1 PC with 2 video cards. One of the video cards is a dual card and the other is a motherboard built in. It took a few hours of fiddling to make it work, but now I can actually drag windows around across 3 monitors. Why do I need those 3 monitors? For network monitoring tools. So where are the other 30? Well ok, I admit, it was a sensasionalist headline, but they do exist... sort of. I've got a virtual desktop software running on that PC which gives me 9 more virtual desktops, and since each desktop is 3 monitors wide, that alone accounts for 27 monitors! So that makes it 30... the remaining 3 are:
1) My main monitor where I actually do work. I managed to get the only 19" monitor in the company and I run it at some oddball high resolution of 1450x900 or something. It was the max I could make it go without getting fuzzy.
2) Those 3 monitors hooked up to 1 PC, in actual fact 1 of them is hooked up to a switchview device where 2 other computers are connected. So then I can switch to 2 other PCs I have, for a total of 4 PCs.

So in reality I have 4 PC's at my desk and 4 monitors, but end up with 4 PCs and 33 monitors! Mwahaha....

Now just wait until I install VMware and get like 3 OS's per machine!!!!!

Somebody make me some extra eyeballs.
Adeptus

PS. At home I have a single 24"... paid a tonne for that, but man what a beauty, it doubles as a widescreen TV screen! Samsung "244T"

Unbiased (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18633101)

Definitely more productive, I get to surf slashdot AND digg at the same time.

Great for Fantasy Sports (1)

us7892 (655683) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633119)

Yeah, I like to keep Sportsline and ESPN up on my second monitor, so I can watch the daily fantasy news and waiver wire, as well as email, while my "regular work" is displayed on my first monitor. It keeps me highly productive, because I'm not constantly context switching from "regular work" to check on the various fantasy league standings and news.

Of course, it helps that the boss is in the same fantasy leagues and does the same thing with three screens. I need a third LCD to keep up...

I have 4 monitors (0, Offtopic)

Enry (630) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633141)

I just call them virtual desktops and switch between them when I need to.

Feels More Productive At Least... (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633187)

I feel a lot more productive if I have enough screen real estate to keep overlapping windows to a minimum. I like to keep one screen for IM, e-mail and web documentation searches and one for editing code and doing development stuff on other machines on the network. This seems to work out VERY well. Having room for the sprawl may really only save me an extra minute or two a day but this will more than make up for the price of the second monitor within the first month.

I find that the wide screens on my Apple systems feel spacious enough as well, even though I tend to have more window overlap with them. Expose may have a lot to do with this, though, as it makes finding the right window exceptionally easy. I believe you can find expose clones for Windows if you're using that OS, might be worth looking in to. If they work even remotely close to how the Apple one does you'll find it difficult to live without it pretty quickly.

I like to do DIFFs on two monitors... (1)

The Media Mechanic (1084283) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633193)

When comparing two files side-by-side, it's very convenient to see one on the left and one on the right, maximized to use all available screen real estate.

So if you're a professional software developer, (as are many in the Slashdot audience), this is one of many possible uses for a 2-monitor-configuration.

If you use Photoshop or or media editing tools, a common setup is to have your tools palette on one screen, and the photo you are editing, blown up to full screen on the 2nd monitor.

absolutely two (1)

painfulrectalitch (1084957) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633203)

Swithching between applications via alt/tab, once consumed so much time that my nose hairs grew to a length which caused them to become entangled in my trackball mouse. A co-worker was able to cut the mouse cable with a pair of fiskers and I escaped relatively unharmed. I was one of the lucky ones. The mouse dangling from my nose, now serves as a reminder of the dangers of one monitor work habits.

hell yes, I'll never go back (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633209)

but I don't have to..
\
one pc at home has a 24wide, landscape, and a 19inchwide portrait just to the left (only place I could mount the arm)
the others- at home (main pc#1) and on my desk at work, 24 dell wide main, landscape.. 20in wide portrait mode (turned 90 degrees)
this means my main screen has 1920 wide X 1200 deep, and the side has 1050 wide, and 1680 deep.
my start/task bar is horizontal on the right smaller portrait oriented screen, runs from the top to the bottom on the left side of that monitor
and set VERY WIDE, so each open app has a long ass name.. right now in fact I see full labels of
"
slingplayer
using two monitors makes you more productive... (this browser window)
inbox- microsoft outlook
sales brochure finalv2.pub-microsoft publisher-print p...
"
etc.. the point is, I'm not seeing little cryptic buttons at the bottom task bar in 2-3 rows..,
and my browser window really is full screen,
when I need to switch windows, I can find the one I want in a heartbeat.. I can have 40-50 items running down the side of the screen... every doc and open program has a long descriptive name in a list top to bottom, not 2-3 rows running under my running app.

+ when I want to look and feel print documents I can work on the portrait monitor and see the whole page at once, and when I'm making webpages to shoot for 1024 width, I pretty much know to a T where to resize my taskbar to nothing/26 pixles wide to have a 1024 desktop on the right...

I'm sorry.. having one large 30" monitor is not the same to me.. takes too long to arrange windows and tile them.. the simple ability to doubleclick maximize on the monitor you are in, is much better than constatntly shifting and tweaking windows to be side/side on a large monitor.

(course, next up would be a 30" wide, with 2 24" rotated sides... somthing I am seriously considering for my next #1 box at home-)

It works wonders (2, Informative)

Warbringer87 (969664) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633251)

You can try to show people HOW it helps you. Like drag them over and show them how it helps you, all the stuff you do to become more productive. You can always send them this [nytimes.com] . Also this [microsoft.com] . is a pretty good one. Just some googling will bring up a swathe of articles claiming statistics, usually up to 50%, so at the very least you can use those, or figure out what studies they use.

Personally, I've got a widescreen laptop, and the added screen real state made me start wondering if I should switch to two monitors to increase it even more! Now I have an old CRT screen to the right of me, usually it has all my documentation/references open while I work. For art programs, especially, it is just unbelievably valuable, been thinking about getting an LCD screen for a while, because the CRT is currently too bulky and too small to place where I want it to be (its like 2 feet away, not quite how most people use it). Not to mention, during breaks, I just switch the secondary to watch TV on it, while I can still do small bits of work.

Yes I'm productive during my breaks as well, its easy when you do something you enjoy.

Virtual desktops work well, when done right (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633255)

I use fvwm2 with a 3x3 layout. I found that if I have less than 3x2 desktops, I am not happy. With 3x3 I am. I have developed conventions on what to place were and I can have 3 or more projects open at the same time, some with more than one screen.

So, no, two monitors would not make me more productive. Two is not enough by far!

CAD (1)

Verte (1053342) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633263)

I do contract mechanical design when I need a little money, and I got an older lcd as a gift last October. How I did design before then, I'm not entirely sure. The main thing, I guess, is having the CLI on one screen, so you can read the output and type long commands, and your drawing area on another. it's great if you're working from .pdf documentation, bring up your reference and off you go. My office is practically dead-tree free now. Everything else I do only really needs one screen, but not having to flip between workspaces or programs, when you really do need to see both at the same time, is something every power user needs.

Yep. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18633331)

I asked for an out of use monitor off the pile of dead equipment at work.

Now all our Java Developers have 2xFlat Screens.

For coding using eclipse, I consider 2 monitors a minimum.

-Anon the Coward.

THREE Monitors (4, Insightful)

KermodeBear (738243) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633361)

I do web development for a living, and I find that having three monitors works the best for me. I have the web browsers on the left, all of my code in the middle, and my documentation on the right. No need to waste time alt+tabbing around, switching desktops, etc., etc. I find it to be very helpful. I think that four would be overkill, though.

I would imagine that for any kind of development, two is better than one. For some, three may or may not be as useful, but as I said above, I like three.

Oh! Absolutely! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18633363)

I find I am MUCH more productive with two monitors. I have the game on the main screen, of course, and then the strategy guides pulled up on the second. That way I am always reminded of productivity tricks and I crank out those battlecruisers like no one's business!

Just hide the damn thing (2, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633369)

Come audit time, stuff the extra monitor under the desk or pile some binders on top of it.

If anyone gets too close to it, smack them on the back of the skull with a lead pipe and put the body in the cubicle of someone you don't like.

This advice brought to you free of charge by /. and Sponge Bath.

Much more productive! (1)

SirJorgelOfBorgel (897488) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633399)

I started using multiple monitors when the Matrox G400 came out. I am a developer and I can say it really boosted my productivity by a large margin. It my previous job I used 3, which I personally see as the optimum number - more gets confusing (sounds stupid, but it's true), less is well, less (how very un-Zen of me!). I mostly used it with email and visual design on the left monitor, code on the middle monitor and the running program and documentation on the right. (Sadly enough it seems most of todays IDE like you to have everything on one screen). These days I only have two (i'll put in a 3rd soon again though) and it is acceptable. 3 over 2 is maybe a 10% increase in ease of work, 2 over 1, in my case, easily doubled my productivity. The number of times you have to switch between different applications just for a glance, need to have a reference for something handy, or need to type in one window something related to what you can read in another window, etc, is enormous. Ever since I started using it, I've been recommending it to everyone who works a lot behind their computers, and a lot of them have taken up this advice and not ONE person is less than ecstatic about it - developers, designers, administrive (type monkeys), alike. It's hard for me to imagine a user that would NOT benefit.

Justifying it may be hard depending on exactly what you do and how your bosses/managers are. If you can get away with claiming a 5% productivity boost (which is way below the real world, IMHO) it easily pays itself back in a few months. The question is if the person in charge is sold on that point alone.

I've also tried these virtual desktops and such, but really, it does not compare, whatever people try to tell you :)

No, but two monitors on two computers does (1)

justthinkit (954982) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633417)

I've been a big monitor hound for quite a few revolutions around the Sun but I've never liked two monitors on one machine, even when programming. I would way prefer having two or more computers near at hand. There is no multi-tasking like two completely separate machines, you can do a true test on a second machine/setup, and distractions like the help center thing someone else mentioned go where they belong -- on a separate computer.

Having said all that, I think we are not far away from the "Your desk is your monitor" systems with six 1920x1200 or four 2560x1600 LCDs -- touchscreened, of course, with one keyboard to control them all!

The Rule of Megatonnage (1)

starglider29a (719559) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633437)

"A distribution of 2 Billion sticks of TNT will do more damage than a 1MT device."

I wish that I could have an array of small monitors, specifically tasked. I'd like to have a chat client maximized in a 512x384 screen, so I don't have to do anything to read "LOL". I'd like to have my Perl scripts running in their own screen, instead of having a DOS window pop up in front of me every 5 minutes.

I wanted to make a Mac SE/30 serve as a second monitor, for starters. But chickened out. Maybe even crack an iPod screen as a mini-monitor... stuck on the side of my 20" like a stickie note. I can buy a 640x480 digital picture frame... Can I make it into a monitor? Even an array of cellphone screen, tiled. I don't need 1024x768 to see the radar from the weather channel. But I do want to see the storm sneaking up on me out of the corner of my eye.

Oh, and how about a cellphone screen to output a 320x160 webcam ;-)

Three is better than two (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18633511)

Two is good, but three is even better.

On my desk I have a Linux box with a high-res LCD, and a docked Windows laptop with its own screen plus an attached LCD. I run x2vnc on the Linux side so I can use its keyboard and pointer for everything, scrolling seamlessly across both systems. (When people see this for the first time their reaction is invariably "How can you do that?" followed 3 seconds later by "I want to do that too!")

Development is all done on the Linux box. (Which, of course, also has 4 virtual desktops.)
Email or major document writing is done on the external screen of the Windows box.
Browser, bug tracker, or other support tools on the laptop's own screen.
My productivity would drop enormously if I had to go to a single screen. I could live with 2 but I'd rather not.

These days with decent LCD's costing less than $200, there is no excuse not to have adequate screen space.

Uh... Google, anyone? (3, Informative)

timothyf (615594) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633551)

Try the links here: http://www.google.com/search?ie=UTF-8&oe=utf-8&q=d ual+monitor+productivity+study [google.com] You'll even get a Slashdot article linking to a study done on it: http://developers.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/1 0/09/137232&mode=flat&tid=137&tid=196 [slashdot.org] See, that wasn't hard...

One really big monitor is best (1)

weazzle (1084967) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633581)

Where I work, we all have 24" wide screen monitors. While this is enough for me, many add a second monitor because it improves their productivity.

it's a no brainer. (4, Informative)

Churla (936633) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633627)

If you have to look at output while editing anything two monitors tends to be more effective.

I actually started using a dual head setup years ago (think pre-AGP days) when I had two PCI cards pushing monitors and Windows 2000 had just finally gotten a semi-automatic way to span them. And I've never gone back.

You'd think "ALT-tab" wouldn't be such an effort... until you don't have to do it.

My wife made fun of it, until I upgraded my CRTs to 19" LCD. Giving me a spare CRT to hook up to the second video port on her nVidia card. Then she found the ability to have research and documentation up on one screen, and whatever she was working on on the other. She's also never gone back.

At my work they have been moving us to Thinkpads for almost all of our production network boxes (test racks are a different matter). They got us docking stations with monitors for when we were in the office. Then I realized instead of that I could use the laptops screen as primary and the docking station screen as a second monitor. On top of that the LCD's they got for us were some nice Dell model that you can rotate to portrait mode. You don't want to know how much faster and easier is it to scan a dual column diff when you have portrait mode...

From a money perspective, if a second LCD monitor costs your company $150, and you make $40 an hour all it has to do to pay for itself in a year is save you 3 hours and 45 minutes. Over a 200 day work year.... Meaning about 1 minute and 12 seconds a day and it pays for itself.
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