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October 19, 2014 AT 2:00 am

Discovering Two Screens Aren’t Better Than One

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Farhad Manjoo from the New York Times raises the argument: Are two screens better than one?

For years, techies have argued that getting an extra monitor or two for your desktop computer is an especially effective way to increase personal productivity. The logic seemed airtight: Two (or more) computer monitors means more room on your virtual desktop, which means more room to do your work. And more room to work would seem to mean faster work.

Even science seemed to agree. As the price of computer monitors plummeted over the last decade, studies showed that increasing display size increased people’s productivity. It didn’t seem to matter that the research was sponsored by Dell and NEC, among other monitor manufacturers. Now two-monitor setups, once the rarefied domain of Wall Street and Silicon Valley, have become de rigueur in office parks across America.

But what if we’ve all been duped? What if more monitors and bigger monitors actually detract from, rather than improve, how you work? What if, rather than more space to get stuff done, what you get from a larger display or two displays is more freedom from work — more room for Twitter, email, chatting and all the other digitized diversions that conspire to get you fired?

Read more.


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2 Comments

  1. This article makes terrible assumptions about the work flow of productive people. I use two monitors, but never for email, social media, etc. If you are not using your computer for work, one monitor is fine. But if you are in a technical field and are actually doing work, then two monitors are always better than one. If you find this not the be true, then you are doing it wrong. Just like any tool, you have to use it correctly for it to be effective.

  2. He needs a second monitor like a fish needs a bicycle. But fish aren’t that smart.

    Right now I have one 4K (Seiki 39 inch for under $350 from Amazon). Before that I had the second HD one in portrait so I could see >100 lines of code in the window.

    When you can just look in a different direction at something already on the page, it is far more efficient that shuffling through a stack of windows.

    Or as the author of the article put it: ” I have no research proving you’ll find as much benefit from a single monitor as I did.”

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