Multiple Monitors and Productivity

Finally I’ve found justification for having my two monitors set up! I wonder if more monitors makes you even more productive? I’m sure around the 32 monitor mark you’ll lose some productivity due to craning your neck though.

7 Comments on “Multiple Monitors and Productivity”

  1. I read a study in the medical imaging field that basically said that having two monitors basicaly tripled your productivity, three monitors added about 30% productivity, and a fourth monitor added about 5% productivity.
    The upshot is that having a second monitor is a huge win because you can mentally seperate one type of data from another. Adding a third monitor doesn’t really add much compared to the cost of adding the monitor. And adding a fourth is a dubious investment at best.
    Note that the study was for medical imaging, like radiologists looking at huge X-Rays on huge monitors…. Different applications may give different results.

  2. My main issue would be moving my head. Because of the way my desk is set up I have to have them a bit closer than I would like (not hugely close, but moving them each another 6″ would be nice). Having three monitors would mean I’d have to move my head that much move. Maybe with the increased distance it’d be ok, but I’d have to move down from my resolution, meaning the amount of space on each monitor would be reduced, etc etc.
    Interesting numbers though dude, thanks.

  3. I think the triple productivity is only in the medical imaging field where the user has to look at many large images and need a lot of landscape. For normal applications, it would probably add a lot of productivity, but not triple or so.
    I think you have hit the nail on the head with having too much landscape: it is easy to have so much space that you lose focus on what is important, and you lose track of where you put everything.
    Also note that in windows, two monitors kinda sucks because all dialogs are centered on the screen… and therefore split between the two monitors…. not good. I’m not sure how linux or the Mac treats the two monitors, but I would hope that the dialogs wouldn’t be automatically split as per Windows.

  4. I’ve been using 2 monitors for the last 3 years now and would never go back. I’ve tried three on one of my bosses computers, and wasn’t that impressed. As mentioned above it’s just too big and you loose things.
    Two monitors is ideal. One for development, one for testing, viewing results. Or email in one and work on the other. Both work really well and I just need more room at home to do this there as well.
    One note, even though it is a good to have sepeartion, try to find monitors without a lot of borders. The closer the screens the better.
    Also different resolutions work fine, once you get used to it. I’m running 1600×1200 on one and 1280×1024 on the other monitor. This allows me to work at a nice resolution, yet show stuff to others at a font they can actually read from a little bit of a distance.

  5. I recently lost my second monitor in a dubious trade. Now I spend more time swapping back and forth between applications than getting work done. I think that my optimum setup would be three monitors since I tend to use one up for irc and IM. So the other two would be the development setup: code on one, output on the other.

    I find that multiple monitors on a laptop works quite well. The laptop runs in 1920×1200 which is kind of small, so often I drag a window to the 21″ monitor (where 1600×1200 is viewable). If the window/image/movie is really tiny, I’d rather drop the res on the external monitor then the laptop, since the aspect ratio gets messed up. LCD’s typically tend to not scale as well.
    The monitors obviously aren’t the same height and aren’t top or bottom aligned, but once I got used to it it’s fine.
    Engel: I’ve never had the problem of dialogs getting split between the screens. They always show up centered on the screen where the main application is running. This is with an NVidia Geforce4 4200 Go.
    While I definetly find having the extra desktop real estate is more productive and enjoyable, I’d agree that it’s not double or triple of a single monitor.

  7. I love my dual monitor setup… so easy, and so CHEAP, I dont know why everyone doesn’t do it. Its essential for my graphics work.