Reasons to Have a Second Monitor

Geek!This is Taylor Brazelton’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:

  1. A second monitor is a way to expand your desktop interactivity. You can work faster and you’ll be able to see more than one application (in a maximized mode) at the same time. This insures the most enjoyable desktop experience.
  2. Are you a professional video editor? You don’t have to be one to enjoy the use of a second monitor (or more, if you wish). A second monitor is almost essential to a video editor, as it allows you the best work environment for your editing by allowing you to expand your video editor software’s timeline across both screens. This gives you the most workspace – so that you can easily see the spot at which you are editing in a more detailed position.
  3. What about web designers? Well, don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten you – for I am one, too. The second monitor might sound like a stretch, but it is actually a good thing. You know when you’re developing and you have to switch back and forth between your source editor, your web browser and maybe even your database tools? Well, with a second monitor it is simple to switch between your web browser and your source editor. Using the second screen you can put your source editor on one screen and your web browser on the other screen. That way your OS doesn’t have to re-draw the GUI for the applications each time you want to switch windows. This gives you more time to work on your project instead of waiting for the GUI to load. Assuming your computer is as slow as mine. 😉

Now that we’ve talked about the top 4 reasons on why you should have a second monitor, I think it is time we talk about why you shouldn’t or why you can’t.

  1. A second monitor is a great thing to have, but what if you have a slow computer? How will this give you a better experience? Well, the hard reality of it is… it doesn’t truly help THAT much. If you want to use a second monitor to it’s fullest extent, I would suggest you buckle down and buy yourself a new computer. I know times are tight right now, but when I was a 13 year-old, there was always a lawn that needed mowing.
  2. What if you don’t have enough room for a second monitor? There is always the option of getting a new desk or cramming a monitor on the desk you already have. This isn’t really the ideal place to have a second monitor. If your desk is always cluttered and messy then this is probably not a good option for you (if don’t want your monitor to fall off your desk). I have seen this before, and it’s not a good thing. It took my friend and me about two months to clean up all the shattered pieces of broken monitor! Every time you walked in with bare feet, you’d get a small piece of glass or a different part of the monitor stuck in your foot. 😛
  3. “Okay, so I have enough room for a second monitor but what about money? I don’t have enough.” This is a common problem for everyone today, although there is always a way. Try doing odd jobs for your friends, family, or around town. Maybe mowing the lawn for a friend or helping the computer illiterate fix a problem with their computers. You can find a job just about anywhere you are, just find one that suits you and what you can do. Also, remember when saving for a big item like a monitor, that you do not spend / waste all the money before you’ve reached your goal. I suggest that you put away 90% of your earnings and then carry around the other 10%.

Don’t forget that no matter what you want, you always have to work for it. Nothing in life is totally free, so be sure to save every penny you can because somewhere down the road you may want to use it. Like… if you were to buy a second monitor for your computer.

Computer Monitor Energy Efficiency

Where do your monitors go when they die? “Ice Ardor” has been thinking about it for quite some time…

In today’s tech world, monitors are getting bigger and bigger. 12-inch monitors used to be normal sized, and then 15- and 17-inch. I myself have a 17-inch monitor at 1280x1024px (the maximum my graphics card will support), and sometimes I wish I had more screen real estate. But something that constantly makes me worry is how a larger monitor means not only will my electricity bill be higher, but I am negatively impacting the environment. Sometimes I don’t need anything bigger than 17 inches, and so powering up a 30 inch monitor, for example, would be wasteful of energy. And even though there have been some great advancements in monitor technology, particularly the switch to CRT to LCD (I’ve got a CRT), larger monitors still produce more heat. More heat means global warming and wasted energy that was derived from some form of energy, most likely nonrenewable.

Americans continue to embrace unnecessary inefficiencies. For example, Windows Vista Ultimate has an animated wallpaper option. That’s wasted CPU power. Another example, screen savers were invented a long time ago when they actually saved screens. Now that isn’t an issue with monitors, yet our screen savers are more graphically complex than they used to be. When we’re away from our computers, do we really need to have some fancy schmancy graphics animation using more CPU than when we are sitting down at our computer? Another example, the yule log video, while cool, probably isn’t as good as the real thing, and justs wastes energy. There’s better ways to get into the Christmas season (eggnog, anyone?). Furthermore, with increasingly large monitors, the power consumption of the monitor and CPU for unnecessary tasks is quite significant.

I was also noticing that monitors are one of the things that people update with a new computer purchase. A lot of people who buy a new computer buy a new monitor. This means there are an excess of old monitors in the world, and unfortunately, they are costly to recycle due to hazardous chemicals. In today’s technology age, I don’t think people are really seeing the damage done to this earth just to have “the latest and greatest”.

I definately don’t mean this to be a personal attack on anyone who chooses to have more screen real estate (hey, I’d take a 21-inch if someone offered it to me), but do you think that there is a balance between screen size and energy efficiency? If you could throw this out to the chatroom (maybe make a video of it, too), I’d love to hear what people have to say about monitor size (energy efficiency vs human productivity), energy-wasteful applications, and the technological habit for upgrading monitors.

So, what do you do with your old monitors?