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Displays Hardware

Multiple Monitors Increase Productivity 539

Posted by michael
from the print-out-and-show-your-boss dept.
eggoeater writes "An systematic study conducted by NEC-Mitsubishi, ATI Technologies and the University of Utah has concluded that the use of multiple monitors in the workplace increases productivity. The study is discussed on Tom's Hardware, EE Times, and there's a detailed press release on NEC-Mitsubishi. For those of us who use multi-monitors, this is not shocking. But maybe now that it's official, IT managers will view it as a good investment and not just for gamers."
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Multiple Monitors Increase Productivity

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  • Gamers? (Score:4, Informative)

    by aliens (90441) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:03AM (#7171556) Homepage Journal
    I don;t know any gamers that use multiple monitors other than those who play flight Sims.

    And as far as having multiple monitors at work, it rocks. Find a cheapo 15" CRT or something and you'll be amazed at how restricted you feel if you go back to one monitor.
    • by oni (41625)
      I was going to say the same thing. What games benifit from multiple monitors? Flight sims are the only thing I can think of and I can tell you from experience there that your frame rates will drop dramatically (unless maybe your second card is a top of the line - mine is an old PCI card and it's unusable for flight sims)

      At work though, it's amazing how useful it is to have a reference document open in another monitor. I can glance at database schema or class hierarchies without having to alt-tab or what
      • If you have the equipment (a special room, several projectors, an SGI Onyx with three Reality Engine 2s, and some other junk), you can find yourself in the middle of a CAVE [uic.edu], and that is cool.
    • I've never "gotten" dual head. I guess two 17" monitors running at 1400x1050 are somewhat cheaper than a 21" monitor running at 2048x1536, and they both display about the same # of pixels, but doesn't the seam running down the middle of the dual-head setup really suck?

      I'd like to see this study conducted with a constant amount of $ invested in either a 2-head or 1-head rig, and see which comes out on top. I'm betting on 1-head.
      • Re:what's the use? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by maan (21073) *
        I have 2 17" screens at 1280x1024, and I think I'd still like it better than one screen at equivalent total resolution. The seam down the middle doesn't bother me. On the contrary, it's a nice "logical" separation. I maximize my windows to occupy one full screen, so I have my editor on one screen, and a browser+email on the second one, for example.

        On one screen, I don't think I'd manage to keep myself organized in the same way.

        Maan
        • Not to mention the aspect ration of 2 17"s compared to a 21" or whatnot. I can make a lot more use of the extra real estate being wide instead of tall.
        • Re:what's the use? (Score:3, Informative)

          by Digital11 (152445)
          Ya know, I really can't believe no one has mentioned this yet. But for those of us who love multiple monitors in Windows, UltraMon [realtimesoft.com] is the icing on the cake.

          It gives you two extra buttons in each window that allow you to either move the window to the other monitor proportionally, or maximize the window across all monitors. It also allows you to have different backgrounds on each monitor. However, THIS is the killer app: A taskbar for each monitor. Once you've tried this, you can't go back. The windows on yo
      • I've never "gotten" dual head.

        well, i would certainly hope not. you'd have to be some kind of freak otherwise.

        (sorry, couldn't resist an opportunity for tasteless (non)humour).
      • Re:what's the use? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pla (258480) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:42AM (#7172004) Journal
        I've never "gotten" dual head. I guess two 17" monitors running at 1400x1050 are somewhat cheaper than a 21" monitor running at 2048x1536, and they both display about the same # of pixels, but doesn't the seam running down the middle of the dual-head setup really suck?

        You think about it the wrong way. Don't think in terms of "cheaper", think in terms of "on the screen but not in my way". (I'll write the rest of this from a Windows point of view, but all the ideas apply equally well to X)

        Consider what you normally use a computer for at work... Perhaps you code, or use Word/Excel, or whatever. But most likely you have some primary app open most of the time, to which you want to give as much screen real-estate as possible.

        But, having other programs open at the same time, such as Winamp, task manager, a graphing calculator, perhaps a small notepad window for jotting things down - All of those you would normally need to switch back and forth with your primary screen-sucking app. Personally, I usually have some development environment filling my primary screen, and find it very annoying to keep finding my calculator, plug in some numbers, switch back, repeat 200 times a day.

        Well, a second monitor makes all of that a non issue. I have my 21" primary monitor taken up with the dev tools, and the 15" secondary keeps what I mentioned (Winamp, taskman, graphcalc, notepad, and usually one or two other random programs) instantly accessible, without having to minimize anything or go searching on the taskbar.

        So try thinking of dual monitors in terms of dual-but-separate desktops, rather than a single large desktop (where yes, the line down the middle would drive most people nuts).


        I'd like to see this study conducted with a constant amount of $ invested in either a 2-head or 1-head rig, and see which comes out on top. I'm betting on 1-head.

        Given a choice between a 19" and a 15", or a single 21", I'd gladly take the former over the latter, hands down.

        Additionally, consider the cost from another angle - Most people working with a computer 8 hours a day will have at least a 19" monitor, frequently even a panel rather than a CRT, often connected to a high-end video card. You can easily blow a grand just on getting a decent primary display for a workstation-class machine (and far more for a high-end graphics oriented system - The CAD guys at my last employer had systems where the display hardware alone cost over ten grand).

        So, if for another $100, a tenth the price of the primary display, you can boost productivity by a significant margin, would you skimp on such a small amount?
      • Re:what's the use? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by loosifer (314643)
        First, your eyes are pretty amazing if you using 2048x1536 on a 21"...

        Second, no one said you had to have 17" monitors; I've had two 21" monitors on my desk for the last 7 years.

        And third, have you actually tried dual monitors? If not, then you couldn't "get it". Every time I have to work with only one monitor, it feels like trying to drive with a windshield that's far too small. I also use 9 workspaces with both of my monitors, which means that i've got 18 workspaces across two monitors, and they're u
    • you don't like the idea of being able to run a fullscreen game in dx video mode and have your windowed apps (IM/IRC/winamp/etc) running and accessible on your secondary monitor?

      alt-tab doesn't have to switch video modes, and switching over to another app, doing some 'work', and tabbing back is much faster. not to mention the benefits of being able to monitor downloads/network traffic/etc.

      and that doesn't even take into account the additional cheating capabilities one could use in online gaming. i'd imagi
    • Actually most gamers I know have multiple monitors (typically on multiple machines). One is for email/IRC/web/IM/music and the other is for the game.
  • by oneself (104209) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:03AM (#7171564) Homepage
    I use 64 in my KDE. So I'm _really_ productive.
    Although I sometimes lose applications for days on end.
  • Duh (Score:4, Funny)

    by The One KEA (707661) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:03AM (#7171566) Journal
    My father has two DVSam 17" LCDs connected to a Matrox Millennium G450. He absolutely loves this setup because it makes it much easier to work on larger tasks like copying files using Explorer or viewing multiple Web pages or viewing a Web page while typing an e-mail.
    I wish I could have a dual-monitor setup.
  • by Bull999999 (652264) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:03AM (#7171567) Journal
    Another study shows even greater productivity if you use NEC-Mitsubishi monitors with ATI Technologies video cards and the user has one or more University of Utah degrees.
    • SCO is in Utah. Surely that counts for something. Probably even more so if the job is a lawyerly marketing kind of job, and the multiple monitors are watching stock prices.
  • by Sodakar (205398) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:04AM (#7171569)
    It's a shame that the study didn't include replacing a standard 4x3 aspect-ratio display with a wide-screen display. In my personal experience, I've found that the extra width is what really helps -- not so much the ability to have two desktops visible at once. Two 17" displays are better than one 17" display, but one 24" widescreen display is even better still. (no break in the middle, consistent color correction across the entire width, great for wide photo-editing, long code that wraps, and of course, ultra-long syslogs)

    Of course, two standard displays are far more economical than one widescreen display... :(

    Though the results of the study are undoubtedly true, I find it amusing that this study is put on by a display company, graphics company, and a university that most likely got freebies or kickbacks.

    News at 7: "Dell Computer, Intel, and UCLA have found that multiple processors can increase productivity."
    • by Phil John (576633) <phil@NoSPAM.webstarsltd.com> on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:15AM (#7171704)
      The only problem with this is that you then have to precisely [sic?] resize the windows so that stuff is aligned well, whereas on a dual monitor setup, if you had an IDE open in one window and some documentation open in another, they can both just be maximised at the click of a button into their fullest sizes on their respective monitors.

      For the same effect on one large monitor you'd have to resize one window to half the screen by using the resize zones on the edges of the window, then resize another to the other half of the screen, it would take longer and thus negate some of the benefit you were trying to get in the first place.
      • That brings up the intriguing possibility of a "fractional maximise" button in the titlebar. That could well be useful even if you did not have a widescreen display. Say maximise your editor to 2/3 of the screen and your helpfile to 1/3 (kind-of like docking).

        I think maximising tends to produce the wrong layout anyway, the human eye is better at reading narrow columns (that's why newspapers are layed out as they are). That's why you get all sorts of cruft down the side of webpages. So why are all the brow

    • by gaj (1933) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:15AM (#7171712) Homepage Journal
      ... I've found that the extra width is what really helps -- not so much the ability to have two desktops visible at once.
      I disagree strongly. Though I agree that width (and the ablility to have either long lines or multiple side-by-side terms) is of major benifit, I've found the ability to independently switch two monitors through multiple workspaces to be a much bigger win.
    • by Kombat (93720) <kombat@kombat.org> on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:18AM (#7171759) Homepage
      Two 17" displays are better than one 17" display, but one 24" widescreen display is even better still.

      I disagree. I use 2 17" monitors at work, and I would vastly prefer this to a single, wide monitor. The reason is simple. Sure, if I had one, 24" wide monitor, I could fit quite a bit of stuff on the screen (almost as much as my pair of 17's). However, I'd have to manually manipulate the window sizes in order to make the most of that space.

      With 2 monitors, each monitor is its own desktop. If I have an app on one screen and I maximize it, it instantly and automatically fills that entire, single monitor, leaving the other monitor untouched. I can then do the same thing to another app in the other window with another app, and with two easy clicks, I now have both my apps each making maximum use of my viewing space, without having to carefully drag window borders around manually.

      This may sound like a small thing, but the few seconds you waste clicking on window borders and resizing quickly becomes an irritating and unnecessary annoyance.

      But the tasks I found benefitted most from dual monitors was when I was learning something new. I could open up the API/User Guide/Tutorial/Examples in one window, while having another entire 17" monitor available to actually run the app I was learning, and follow through the tutorial without having to constantly switch virtual desktops, minimize/maximize, or ALT-TAB around.

      I can't imagine going back to a single monitor, regardless of its size.
      • Re:WideScreens (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tigersha (151319)
        True. And if there is ONE ting I want in both windoze and X, its a button on the keyboard tha simply switches all the windows between the two screens. I veryoften have one window open on my main display and something else (like a help text on the other). A quick-switch button would do wonders.
    • You might be interested in something [panoramtech.com] from Panoram Technologies [panoramtech.com].

      A really nice setup, a very narrow seam, and the ability to handle twelve different sources - one VGA, DVI, S-Video & Composite per screen. You could have one three-screen, one two-screen, and one single-screen computer, as well as random video feeds. Of course, the pricetag is a bit higher than three of most LCD screens.
    • I agree. I recently acquired a 24" SGI GDM-90W11, which I run at 1920x1200, and it's really sweet. On my "Internet" desktop, I've got a web browser, mail client and an SSH window into my home machine all arranged nicely. On my 3 development windows (all different versions of the same product) I've got kterms on one side, and gvim windows on the other. On another desktop, I've got a Mozilla window open to the Java API spec.
    • "Dell Computer, Intel, and UCLA have found that multiple processors can increase productivity."

      Not as much as you might think. A processor that is twice as fast is always better than two processors. That's why, so far, graphics cards and PCs have stuck to one chip. Yes, there are exceptions (Vodoo5, Opteron/Xeon/G4/G5), but they never sell as well as the cheaper 1p systems.
  • by smd4985 (203677) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:04AM (#7171574) Homepage
    it was my birthday recently - obviously you posted this story in order to convince my boss that buying me that extra flat-screen LCD is a cost-effective decision. happy birthday to me and thanks very much :).

    (please don't mod this up, don't want the boss to see it :) )
  • I'd have to agree (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bush_man10 (461952) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:05AM (#7171582) Homepage
    I'm typing this up right now on a multi-monitor setup. I can honestly say it is one of the best ways to organize your windows and screens. I don't nearly alt-tab as much as I used to with one monitor. It's just so handy to be able to glance with your eyes and read some documentation while your code is on the other monitor, or look at a header file while you code the cpp....you get the idea :)
    • Re:I'd have to agree (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bedouin X (254404)
      Amen, and there is nothing like being able to write web code in one monitor and reload the browser in another. Or compile a binary app to run in the one monitor while debugging in the other.

      My co workers come in my office and look at my dual flat screens and think that I'm just hoarding resources. Little do they know that the money that they save from me not having to click around and precisely resize windows has paid for this other monitor many times over.
      • This is especially true when working with graphics applications. I can remember back in the day having an MS-DOS 3.3 box with one mono monitor and one VGA monitor. Using Borland C I could load the debugger on the mono disp and have the output on the VGA disp. Most handy.

        These days I'm too poor (in both money and free space) for multiple screens, but I can envision having one "productive" screen and one "administrative" screen going on. I could drag a window off the productive screen and maximise it on

  • by Kidbro (80868) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:05AM (#7171585)
    [...] has concluded that the use of multiple monitors in the workplace increases productivity.

    Yeah, I hate it when all developers have to share a single monitor. Sucks.
    • by Greyfox (87712) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:13AM (#7171673) Homepage Journal
      That's one aspect of Extreme Programming I never liked. Though the Really Extreme Programming (XXXProgramming) where one developer sits on another developer's lap does show some promise...
    • I love how people are making all of these under-modded, but very humorous posts *one day* after my mod points expired. Bastards!

      Just to stay on-topic, I'll chime in and say that multiple monitors are super, super great for any job that requires a lot of screen real estate, or any situation where you're looking at several apps at once. When you go from dual setup back to a single setup, that's when you realize that you have to spend inordinate amounts of time simply cycling through and rearranging wind
  • by bunyip (17018) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:05AM (#7171589)
    NEC funded study shows that multiple monitors are good for you.

    MS funded study shows that Linux is bad for you.

    Phillip Morris funded study shows that smoking is good for you.

    I think I'm beginning to see a pattern...
  • Is this this is "An systematic study conducted by NEC-Mitsubishi, ATI Technologies and the University of Utah". 2/3 of the organizations involved in the study have a vested interest in proving that a multi-monitor setup is more productive, gives you better skin, or whatever. I can see the board meeting now. "Hey Frank, I've figured out how we can just about double our sales in the business sector..."
    That being said, I'll be using this article in a pitch to the wife to let me invest in some more "product
  • Separation of tasks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TiMac (621390) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:07AM (#7171616)
    Just like a Dual Processor machine--but rather than assigning a thread to a CPU, you're associating a thought process with a visual/spatial location.

    I replaced my dual monitor setup with an 20 inch Apple Cinema Display when I got my new G5...but I am finding myself missing the twin screens, even despite the size and aspect ratio of the gorgeous new screen...may have to find a way to get another Cinema...and a bigger desk!

  • Interesting (Score:5, Informative)

    by JediTrainer (314273) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:08AM (#7171627)
    Personally, though it sounds odd, I had an easier time convincing my company to give every member of my team a second computer, rather than a second monitor.

    So we each now have our Windows boxes for running Outlook and doing tests with IE and such, and our Linux boxes for actually doing the coding. Since the app is in Java (some server, some client), it doesn't matter much which machine it runs on. I can say that our productivity has definitely gone up quite a bit since we've gone to this setup.
  • What about CDE desktops managers and things like goScreen for windows- I have my e-mail in one, slashdot in another, my exceed in a third, my spreadsheet in a fourth.

    I realize the value of seeing "more at once", and I realize that virtual "Desktops" take a degree of organization on the part of the user. But I can't help but wonder if a well used virtual desktop system can't rival a multimonitor setup.
    • > I can't help but wonder if a well used virtual desktop system can't
      > rival a multimonitor setup.

      Absolutely not. I have run multiple-desktops under FVWM 1.24 (that's right, 1.24) since early 1997. My desktop changes are lightning fast and I have shortcuts (ALT-F1 through F8) for switching desktops. And my desktop switching is FAST, about 1/10th of a second for a complete redraw (no KDE/GNOME/CDE bloat with FVWM 1.24!)

      I have also run multiple monitors since 2000. There simply is no comparison. While
  • Is the effect that they have measured really multiple monitors or multiple desktops? If I was stuck in a Windows world where I had to constantly switch which applications are on my one display, I would be much less productive.
  • mmmm, EMF (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kisrael (134664) * on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:10AM (#7171646) Homepage
    An double extra dose of healing CRT radiation!

    (Guess we should ask for the LCDs...)
  • by linuxkrn (635044) <gwatson&linuxlogin,com> on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:10AM (#7171647)
    I've had dual 19" Samsung LCDs since the start of the this year. And have to agree it very nice to be able to code on one display, and have our debug/output on another.

    As for gaming, X (nVidia actually) has some issues. I've found that most games don't know what to do with the dual displays (UT2003/Savage/FrozenBubble/etc) and usually just display 'centered' between the two displays. This is VERY annoying and I can't play with a seam (even if it's < 1") where most of the action is supposed to take place. Three monitors would be better since you wouldn't have a seam in the center of your POV.

    My fix for this is a shell script that just turns off one display and I restart X to play my game. nVidia should really have a configuration for OpenGL games on dual head so I can "lie" to the games that I only want one display used and what display to draw on.

    As for my final gripe, with nVidia drivers, you cannot seem to set which output you want for what display. I've got a GeForce4 Ti4200 with DVI/SVGA outputs. The DVI is **FAR** better quality then the SVGA so I want it to the left (read left-to-right ya know) and my SVGA to the right. However when I do this, the drivers number the displays 1,0 instead of what I'd like 0,1. So I'm left using SVGA/DVI to get 0,1.

    Just my $0.00002
    • by TopherC (412335)
      I thought you could do that...

      for example:
      Option "TwinViewOrientation" "LeftOf"
    • Well, I cannot address your second issue, but as for the one you mention about having the game be displayed on both screens, you can specify which screen you want to use for gaming. Specifically, you are concerned with the NULL setting under MetaModes.

      Here's a snippet from my XF86Config file.

      ========= Begin Paste =========

      Section "Screen"
      Identifier "Screen0"
      Device "GF4"
      Monitor "Samtron"
      DefaultDepth 24
      Option "TwinView" "True"
      Option "SecondMonitorHorizS
    • If you want multiple monitors, Matrox seems to be the way to go. Sure, their cards aren't as well-equipped to give you every single last piece of 3D eye candy, but they are great with two or three display setups.

      I'm currently working on a 21 in. Trinitron screen (and I've got other CRTs lying around that I've tried the Matrox TripleHead Desktop on), but my next display jump will be to get a pair of 17 in. or 19 in. TFT panels to put either side of my main display.

      With that kind of setup I get the best of
  • I used to use two monitors in my former life as an architectural draftsman...I could have one session of AutoCAD open on one monitor, and another in the second monitor. If you want to copy something, just pick it on one monitor and drag it to another. It was also useful for having reams of specifications open on one monitor while drawing their requirements on another...so there is productivity gain in the right circumstances...but as with most technology, I fear that many people will buy it just for the s
  • Well, duh. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Pope (17780) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:12AM (#7171665)
    Sorry, but I was using dual monitor Macs back in 1994-6 for Director projects, and having the stage on one screen and the score and cast on the other was the only way to go. Everytime I had to go troubleshoot a project on a PC with one dinky 14" monitor, it was painful as all hell. Macs have had this support since 1987 with the Mac II.
  • I would be twice as productive if I didn't have to switch between slashdot and my IDE all the time.

    Of course, I can read Slashdot in the Visual Studio .NET IDE if I want, but that just feels wrong somehow...
  • I'm not a programmer but I do work on computers as a tech. All but 3 people in our shop have dual monitors of one sort or another. The only 3 that don't are two administrative staff and one salesman that should be selling used cars, not computers.

    Most of us have dual monitors at home as well. I for one can't stand working on a computer with only one monitor for any extended period of time. At work I keep my Outlook in one monitor off to the side and then do everything else in the other monitor. Also wo

  • Damn Straight... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dr. Bent (533421) <benNO@SPAMint.com> on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:13AM (#7171679) Homepage
    I've had two 21" monitors for my system at work, and it's made me much more productive. One of the main benefits is that I can debug rendering code much easier because I don't have to switch back and forth between the editor and the application (triggering extra repaints that screw up the codepath I'm trying to debug).

    Also, it lets me put my editor (JBuilder, in most cases) on one monitor, and have a UML diagram, a specification, or a bug report, etc...on the other. And considering I was able to add the extra monitor for 300, it's totally worth it.
  • I have done this before. Unfortunately it was because my company was too cheap to get us dual computers - which we needed. For some jobs, where large amounts of screen real estate can make a difference it can actually be cheaper to use dual monitors than one larger monitor. It can also be more effective as well. Think of it this way, if your alt-tabbing more than 50 - 100 times a day, dual monitors are justified.

    Basicly anybody that needs to visualize more than one application to do a job on a consistent b
  • Neck strain? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sphealey (2855) * on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:13AM (#7171685)
    For those of you with multiple monitors, how do you set them up? One straight ahead and the 2nd at a 45 deg angle? Or both to the left and right at 20 deg or so?

    My question relates to neck strain: while I would like to try two monitors, I am concerned that the constant looking to the left or right for the second monitor (or both in the low-angle setup) would increase strain on the neck muscles and/or neck and shoulder joints.

    sPh

    • I have an L-shaped desk and I have my 21" monitor, on the large end, and I have a little 17" monitor atop 2 books and recessed to the right. I found that having the tops of the monitors at the same level made a huge difference when even just glancing over at the second monitor. I didn't have to re-find my location if the tops of the screens are the same.
    • What's the feasability for taking one and putting it on top of the other? It wouldn't be that hard; either use shelving, or mount an LCD panel to the top of that hulky CRT. It'll fit.

      Plus, I'm almost 100% sure that Windows will allow you to position the extra desktop space above your existing monitor. All it is is a matter of click-n-drag on the new monitor in the 'settings' tab of the Display Preferences, if memory serves me.

      On an off-topic note, has anyone had an instance where, from two year-and-a-half
    • Re:Neck strain? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ChrisDolan (24101) <chris+slashdotNO@SPAMchrisdolan.net> on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:51AM (#7172126) Homepage
      It's not an issue for me. I find I just do an occasional eye flicker to the secondary monitor and work mostly on the primary monitor.

      I use two identical 17" Sony E200 monitors at 1280x1024, side by side with about a 10 degree angle between them. Left is Mail, Mozilla, iTunes, and Dock. Right is Menubar, Terminal, and iChat and any other apps. I spend almost all my time looking at Right, with an occasional glance at Mail on Left. Left is AGP Radeon, Right is PCI Radeon.

      A few ideas that helped me:

      • Use identical monitors
        Any difference between the two (size, resolution, color) is grating
      • Speed up your mouse settings (MouseZoom prefpanel on Mac)
        Moving horizontally across 2560 pixels takes times
      • Choose one to be your primary and do all focused work there
      • Put low-attention apps (mail, browser) on the other
      • Choose a dark colored desktop unless you want a tan
      • Sit back in your chair when reading mail and surfing Lean in when coding
      • Turn off animated GIFs!!!!!! Otherwise the corner-of-the-eye flicker will kill concentration

      A few problems (likely all Mac specific):

      • VNC server can only see Right (the primary monitor)
      • Booting with one monitor off may forget window placement
      • Windows are only allowed to be as wide as the width of one monitor.
        Grr.
  • I have a pair of 17" TFTs on my desk* and I found that my productivity dropped like a rock because the first thing I did was install the GLMatrix mode** for xscreensaver - now I just sit there for hours on end thinking how cool it looks.

    * 2 computers linked with synergy [sf.net] - acts like one computer with two screens, but you can tie one up with heavy cycles and leave the other free for browsing etc. Works cross platform Linux/OSX/Win as well.

    ** Looks like the bit from the opening credits of Matrix 2 - way
  • Definitely the space of a single monitor is too limited. Right now on my desk I've got a whole slew of documents and couple of open books laid out, and I'm looking at all of them (well, I'm looking @ /. actually :) ).

    Some day I hope the monitor will be part of my desk, probably in a form of a flexible transparent overlay taking the *whole* area of the desk (and perhaps working in conjunction with a screen on the wall(s)). It will also be touch sensitive, so it will act as a keyboard (and mouse) as well, an
  • ... and we all shared a PDP11/70, and room full of TVI-912c terminals, and 80x24 was all you got.

    If you could manage to get into the terminal room early you could grab a pair of tvi's next to each other and login twice, and be nearly twice as productive. On some desks you could actually get access to three terminals at once, heaven!

    So why does two monitors beat two separate PC's?

  • I use two... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by scovetta (632629) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:24AM (#7171819) Homepage
    I use two monitors, and I agree, it's a big help, but I find that a larger monitor helps more. I have two 17"s at work, save resolution and everything, but the 3" beige division between desktops isn't always easy to forget about. I have a 19" at home, and it's much better for coding, since the screen holds more text (duh), but all of the toolbars, nav frames, etc take up precious space, and splitting that up between two monitors throws off the eye. I'm planning on a 21" monitor soon, I assume that'll be a big improvement as well.

    Also, for those of you who have your monitor refresh rate set at 40 hz or something, change it-- if you stare about 6" above the top of your monitor and look for the monitor in your peripheral vision, you can see the refreshing, it's weird-- that throws me off.

    Also, big comfy chairs and a raise tend to raise my productivity too ;)
  • This should seem rather obvious. I have three screens at work (since several rounds of layoffs over the past two years has left the company with an abundance of equipment).

    I have a [17"LCD] [21"CRT] [17"LCD] setup.

    My CRT is where I run my primary applications, which is usually Eclipse (which unfortunately does not seem to have multi-screen support for breaking off panels to other screens).

    My left LCD is where I run web browsers for running, testing code, or surfing slashdot =P

    My right LCD is for my tel
  • But what do you use for a second video card? There's no way I can get my boss to buy a dual head card and no new cards are PCI, so I'm stick with the single AGP card. I have a spare ATI Rage PCI floating around.

    I'd also like to take this time to complain that IBM does not ship dual monitor capable drivers for its ATI Rage Mobility-equipped laptops. ATI claims it's supported, but depends on the laptop manufacturer to provide suitable drivers.
  • Nice (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jayhawk88 (160512)
    An systematic study conducted by NEC-Mitsubishi, ATI Technologies...

    This is almost as good as one of those "A study conducted by Microsoft and Forrester Research concludes that Windows is Holy and Linux causes lepersy" studies. NEC and ATI think you should buy another monitor and upgrade your video card. Damn, what's next? Shell Oil thinks current fuel efficiency standards are just fine? Logging company thinks spotted owls will adapt to living in underground holes?
    • Re:Nice (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pla (258480)
      This is almost as good as one of those "A study conducted by Microsoft and Forrester Research concludes that Windows is Holy and Linux causes lepersy" studies.

      Though I see your point, I have to disagree that the findings seem excessively biased.

      Compare the cost of a pair of 17" monitors to a single 21"... Pricewatch currently lists $69 for the former, and $299 for the latter.

      So if the hardware suppliers wanted to make more money by biasing their study, it would seem that they should have found the ex
  • I tried working with two monitors, but was set back by two problems.

    I'm using a laptop with a 15" UXGA screen, and none of the spare CRT monitors lying around are sharp enough to work at that resolution (1600x1200). If I use a lower resolution on my attached monitor, it becomes just a little bit akward. Also there's the issue of looking up-and-to-the-right since the laptop panel is right on the desk.

    My other complaint is also laptop-related. To switch to two monitors, I need to use a different XF86Conf
  • Productivity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pvera (250260) <pedro.vera@gmail.com> on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:27AM (#7171853) Homepage Journal
    The first I used a dual monitor setup was over 12 years ago in an Autocad 9 workstation while doing a co-op project. I had grown used to the limitations of having crappy graphics and terrible mice, so I (and most of my classmates) got used to type in coordinates into the command line for ACAD and never had to worry about forgetting to turn on grid snaps, etc. Well, we went to this pharmaceutical and they had a sweet CAD rig, and it had TWO nice monitors instead of a crappy one.

    What did I get out of it? A nasty neck headache. The monitors were setup with all graphics in one, and text commands on the second. Terrible neck strain because of the monitor placement.

    Next multi monitor setup was working at an Army satellite network ops center, the telemetry workstation had 5 monitors but the placement was more ergonomic so it was much easier to handle than if all the info was crammed into one huge screen. That pretty much worked.

    At my previous job (dot bomb) as we started shutting down branch offices we got an influx of extra equipment and eventually most of the people that had desktops were assigned a second monitor. In almost every case the second monitor translated into increased productivity. These people were doing things like building flash animations, editing videos or doing web programming, so they appreciated the increased screen space. Even our instructional designers were doing great because they could have more documents opened side-by-side.

    Of course, it is awesome to have a second monitor if you are a gamer, but for most of us that work with a gazillion windows opened at the same time, having dual monitors (or for the lucky bastards, a huge widescreen monitor like the Apple studio series) is a godsend.
  • Yes, it does improve productivity.

    I can open a header file on one bottle, the code using that header on another, and be able to quickly code.

    I can open a bug report on one bottle, and the responsible code on another.

    I can run my debugging telnet sessions on one display, and check the code on another.

    For the same amount of money, the amount of usable glass you get with two bottles vs. the amount of glass you get with one big bottle is no comparison - two 17" is better than one 19", two 19" is better than
  • by southpolesammy (150094) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:28AM (#7171872) Journal
    I tell ya. The one thing I hate about Windows vs. UNIX-type systems is Window's bad use of screen real estate when compared to X displays running on Linux, Solaris, etc.

    For example, with the same 19" monitor in my house, I can have so many more windows open and viewable with Linux than with Windows. Also, Windows in 1280x1024 resolution or higher gets unreadable whereas I don't tend to have that problem with Linux for some reason.

    So I'm not so sure about needing >=2 monitors, but perhaps to enhance the GUI readability of various OS's at higher resolutions.
  • It only took a year:

    2002-10-24 02:53:52 Multi-Monitors and Increased Development Productivity? (askslashdot,programming) (accepted)
    (Link [slashdot.org])

    I've been looking for a quantitative study so I could get my employer to give me 2 19" LCDs to go along with my 21" Sony CRT. =)
  • by ayjay29 (144994) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:31AM (#7171900)
    Working for a .com that "re-orginased" it's staff several times, we had a room full of unused monitors. Most of the team now use two monitors. It really helps with apps like Visual Studio.
    I tried four monitors once, this was great, the only drawback was I kept loosing the mouse pointer.

  • I can see how this would hold true for people who need and benefit from multiple monitors, but I think that it is pretty safe to assume that most people don't actually need the monitors for a productivity boost. Most people using computers at the office aren't in technical jobs where they have the skills or need to do much more than a few simple tasks with the computer.

    It seems to me that a few far better ways to increase productivity and reduce desktop clutter are:
    - Block all chat, IM, and streaming media
  • Quote from Microsoft's Article [microsoft.com]:

    The first study revealed that the users' productivity increased by 9 percent. Further studies showed even greater increases - at times up to 50 percent for tasks such as cutting and pasting.

    Heh.
  • Maybe it's just me, but I've never heard of this sort of take on multiple monitors - that they are for gamers. I've been using multiple monitors (In fact, I've insisted on them) since 1998 at home and the office, and I've never heard this argument.

    If I'd had heard it, I would of laughed - dual (or triple) monitors are usually a pain when it comes to gaming, because most games (for windows) don't handle it very well if you leave the other monitors on and 'attached' via the display settings panel. Thus, yo
  • Where I work, we are beginning a feasibility test where we are replacing our usual two monitor arrangement (one 21" CRT and one 17" CRT) with a single Apple 23" Cinema HD display.

    Our users are creative folk, working on G4s with Photoshop, Illustrator, Quark, etc. Historically, the mindset has been to keep application palettes on the smaller display while the current document is open full-screen on the larger display. Usual resolutions are 1600x1200 on the 21" monitor and 1280x1024 on the 17" display.

    Our t
  • Keebler and Nabisco have teamed up with the University of Toledo to show that a steady diet of cookies decreases heart disease.

    John Ascroft and MIT have determined that electronic tracking collars increase pedestian safety

    Nokia strongly insists that the N-Gage doesn't blow

  • by alispguru (72689) <baneNO@SPAMgst.com> on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:59AM (#7172256) Journal
    Of course developers are more productive with more screen space. If I can have more windows open at once without overlapping them, I'll spend less time raising/lowering/rearranging them, with less disruption to my thought processes while I'm coding/testing/debugging. More information in front of me with less effort to get it keeps me in flow, which is where I want to be.

    I used to have a 17" Apple monitor that I ran at 1600x1200 for development, solely to keep as much text as possible in my field of vision while working. My favorite monitor of all time was a Sun 20" monochrome 100 DPI screen - ran at something like 2000x1500.

    Screen space is an extension of my short-term memory - it lets me deal with more complex things with less effort.
  • It's the perfect solution; since an extra monitor makes you 18% more efficient, 5 of them must make you almost 100% more efficient.

    So, instead of hiring 100 employees, I'll just hire one, and get him 495 extra monitors!
  • by hawkfish (8978) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @11:16AM (#7172502) Homepage
    I can generally tell code that is written using small monitors because it tends to be "local". There is not much awareness of existing functions in the same file or in related files.

    I have two monitors on my desk (both larger than the laptops preferred by many these days) hooked up to a OSX box. Editing on one with BBEdit, Terminal shell open for the target machine on the other, translucent windows so I can find stuff that is buried. It may seem silly, but I honestly feel that these little details translate into better designs and code.
  • It' just bandwidth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Phat_Tony (661117) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @11:43AM (#7172867)
    Of course it raises productivity, it raises the most important bandwidth limitation in the whole system: the one between the user & the machine.

    Hands using the keyboard & mouse going one way, and eyes watching the monitor going the other way, is a pretty limited interface. (Yeah, I know there are speakers and printers and such, but most of the information channel is keyboard, mouse, monitor.) Not a lot has happened on the keyboard/mouse end to raise input bandwidth since around 1984, but the output bandwith had grown a lot, from hopeless 10" VGA monitors (or TV's) to having things like 2 21" 1600 x 1200 monitors.

    Higher monitor resolution (that's total resolution, not just screen density) makes a huge difference in how fast and how well you can obtain and comprehend information from your machine.

    The GUI helps with this too- GUI's are just compression algorithms to compress information in order to pump it through the narrow bandwidth of the screen-eye-brain pipeline. It uses more machine resources in order to present things in a manner that lets your brain recognize things faster, because brains are better built for dealing with graphics than text in many ways.

    More monitor space also increaeses input by compressing it (or eliminating useless steps)- if you can see more windows at once, you spend less time using your narrow input pipeline to rearrange things, and more time inputing directly where you want.

    See Edward Tufte [edwardtufte.com], who is always upset about people tossing out bandwidth in stupid interface design. Notably, he bashes web browsers, which usually use screen space up on
    1- the OS's menu bar & other widgets
    2- the web browser's menu bar, toolbar, link bar, & other widgets
    3- the sites' title bar, ad banner, navigation bar, sidebar, etc.

    This often leaves a couple of square inches of screen space to cram in the information on the site you're actually trying to get too, mostly wasting huge portions of your bandwidth, especially on lower resolution monitors, because all the other widgets stay the same size, and it's the content space that shrinks down to the size of a pea.
  • I use three (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tryfen (216209) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @11:45AM (#7172888) Homepage
    A good resource for multiple monitors is here [realtimesoft.com].

    I use 3 monitors at home Left is API, Centre is IDE, Right is Application (plus Trillian, WinAmp etc). One you've gone double, you never want to go back :-)

    On windows 98 & XP it's dead easy. Shove in an old PCI card and away you go. I've never got it working properly with Linux.

    T

Two is not equal to three, even for large values of two.

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