How Many LCD Monitors Do You Need?

Geek!This is Gerald Smith’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

How many monitors do you use? One? Two? Three? Ten??? Many will say that one monitor is more than enough to do everyday computing, but for those geeks out there who always have multiple windows, live feeds, messengers, applications, and whatever else open simultaneously… expanded monitor real estate is an essential part of the computing experience.

Personally, I have two 22″ Dell (E228WFP) Widescreen monitors and plan on purchasing another within the coming months. To give you an idea of why I need this display setup, here are the programs I typically have running: Google Desktop, Trillian, 2 or more Firefox windows, live TV, iTunes, GroupWise e-mail, Twitter gadget, and whatever I’m working on at the time. Multiple monitors make multi-tasking a breeze.

How about you – how many monitors do you use? Do you use only one and wish you had more? Do you want to purchase another monitor even though you already have a dual/multi monitor setup? Well, here are five things to consider if you are thinking of purchasing an additional monitor:

  1. Space – Do you have enough desk space to house multiple monitors? This can be an important factor when expanding your setup. The types of monitors used are also important. It could be quite difficult to setup 3 or more CRT monitors on a single desk. As always I recommend LCD monitors to allow for more space. Screen size is another factor that must be considered. Obviously, two 22″ widescreen LCD monitors will take up much more room than two 19″ standard LCD monitors.
  2. Usage – Do you really have a need for more monitors? Think about all the programs you use at one time. Do you use them simultaneously? As I said before, one of the main reasons for having a multiple monitor setup is for better multitasking. If you typically don’t multitask, then you probably don’t need more than one monitor… two monitors, at most.
  3. Travel – Do you move your desktop from place to place frequently? If so, you may not want to haul around more than one monitor. As a college student, I tend to move my desktop from one location to another about 5 to 10 times a year. For me, it’s worth the hassle, but it may not be for everyone.
  4. Other Options – Is there another way you could go to get more monitor real estate? For the average user, a size upgrade is all that’s needed. For gamers or movie watchers / creators, an increase in screen resolution may be a better option than purchasing another monitor. You still have more room to multitask but the experience will be enhanced more than you can imagine. Side note: make sure you graphics card is capable of keeping up with a resolution jump.
  5. Cost – I leave the issue of cost for last because it is a relative factor when deciding to purchase another monitor. Of course, price may be your top concern – but if you’re already considering this type of purchase, then all you’re really looking for is the best deal. Compare the costs of different sizes and brands and keep an eye out for good discounts. You will notice that some sizes only cost a little more than the next size down. Go for the larger size – it’ll be worth the price in the long run.

2 thoughts on “How Many LCD Monitors Do You Need?”

  1. Gerald, thanks for this article.

    I do 3D graphics work with Poser, DAZ|Studio, etc. I really need lots of workspace, monitor space.

    Whenever I make my tutorials, I multi-task using several programs.

    I’m trying to learn new sofware, and most of those tutorials are videos. I have a hard time if I try to do it all on one screen.

    I started my dual-screen pursuit last year, but got side-tracked when I couldn’t get it to work on my new iMac.

    Since then I have figured the problem may have been caused by a defective DVI cable. (I yanked on it a few times.)

    I have a replacement DVI cable arriving tomorrow. I can’t wait to try my new dual monitor setup!

    Take care, and Happy Holidays.

    Ron Knights

  2. I have 2x 17″ NEC MultiSyncs on my desk along with a standard dell 15″ monitor to the right. I use the l middle monitor for web browsing, the left for misc windows I’m working on, and the right I use for watching movies / TV shows / video podcasts with iTunes / VLC. For larger projects, I have windows strewn about all three monitors simultaneously I usually do Photoshop work on the right monitor because the others are newer and have yet to be calibrated. If I’m installing / doing sysadmin work on laptops, I use Synergy to add the laptop(s) as additional monitor(s). (At one time, it was like I had 6 monitors!)

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