Recently, we’ve been seeing an increasing demand for monitors. And I don’t mean as part of a computer package, i.e. accompanied by a CPU, motherboard, case, keyboard – you know, the whole nine yards. Rather, just monitors, by themselves. It turns out, many of these purchases were made by people who have learned about the benefits of using multiple monitors and are building what are mostly dual-monitor set ups.
But what exactly are the benefits of using multiple monitors? We’ve devoted this entire article to answering that question.
The numero uno reason people use multiple monitors is to increase productivity. Once you start adding even just one more monitor, you’ll realise you can accomplish a lot of computer-based tasks much faster. At the other end of the spectrum, it also enhances the entertainment (mostly gaming) experience. We’ll cover those types of benefits here as well.
Many individuals are already deploying multi-monitor set ups. Here are some of the reasons why they’re doing it.
When you’re creating a report, article, or presentation, you usually need to view reference materials and other supporting data. This information might be found in separate websites, spreadsheets, documents, and other reading materials.
So, what you normally do, is open these sources on other windows or browser tabs. And then to view them, you’d frequently use alt+tab. But seeing all these different screens pop in and out can be quite dizzying. That’s where additional monitors can help. If you have even at least a second monitor, you can display your references on that second monitor and keep the document you’re working on in your main screen.
To view the reference material, you simply have to glance at your second monitor. You might still need to do some alt-tabbing but not as often anymore. Of course, the more monitors you have, the fewer alt-tabs you’ll need to perform.
Inbound marketers (those who manage social media accounts, blogs, SEO campaigns, etc.) often need to keep track of relevant conversations on social media. To do that, many of them use tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, which enable them to simultaneously display multiple tabs of different twitter streams on a single dashboard. Here’s how a typical Hootsuite dashboard looks like.
By monitoring relevant twitter streams, the inbound marketer could promptly join in and engage as soon as the opportunity presents itself. Of course, the marketer doesn’t have to keep his/her eyes glued to the dashboard all the time. In fact, in most cases, he/she will be doing something else, like writing a blog post, scheduling tweets, researching keywords, etc.
But by having a second monitor to display the dashboard and the first monitor for working on the more pressing tasks, the marketer can easily multi-task. Anyone who needs to monitor a live feed or stream can easily take multitasking to the next level by using a second monitor.
Certain professionals, like accountants, bookkeepers and auditors, make extensive use of spreadsheets. Most of these spreadsheets have several columns that could never be squeezed into a single screen (and still remain readable). Hence, these professionals have to keep scrolling left and right if they want to see and compare the values in different cells.
Many CPAs have made their jobs a lot easier by spreading large spreadsheets out across two or three monitors. It really helps. Moreso because, when some CPAs work, they don’t just open really big spreadsheets. They’d sometimes have to open a Word document (for writing reports), an accounting system, and a couple of other charts and tables at the same time.
Other professionals, like developers, graphics designers, and system administrators, usually need to open two or more windows that contain either:
For example, a system administrator might be running multiple virtual machines or remote sessions of different servers that communicate with one another. A developer might be running an IDE (where he/she writes the code or designs the user interface) on one window, the output on another, the logger on a third, and an API documentation on yet another window.
Having the ability to quickly glance on one or more screens and see how their outputs respond to changes on a third can considerably expedite development or administrative tasks.
All of our previous examples have been work-related. But multiple monitors can also be used for entertainment purposes. Naturally, the first thing that comes to mind is gaming. Believe it or not, there’s now a huge selection of games that actually support multiple monitors. To name some of the more popular titles, there’s:
Best played with at least 3 identical monitors, these games add a sort of peripheral vision when displayed across multiple screens. Like, when you’re speeding forward, the left and right monitors – which are usually positioned at an angle to the centre – make it really appear as if you’re moving past structures.
If you’re following a news report or a sporting event (e.g. FIFA World Cup, British MotoGP, Wimbledon, Cheltenham Festival) and you can afford to be distracted every once in awhile, you can display a live video stream of it on a second monitor while you do work on your main monitor.
On a less “mission-critical” note, you can also use two monitors to display different products for comparison. You might be planning to buy a car, a smartphone, a TV, etc. By using multiple monitors, you can easily compare each product’s appearance, specs, and other related information.
This usually happens when you purchase a small laptop. The first limitation you’ll notice is the real estate of your screen. But you can easily remedy that little inconvenience by adding a second monitor. Just plug it into your laptop’s VGA, HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort or (in the case Macs), Thunderbolt/MiniDisplayPort ports. Take a few seconds to configure your settings, and you’ll be good to go.
We plan on writing a tutorial detailing the steps of setting up a multi-monitor setup, so stay tuned for that.
Don’t see your everyday tasks on this list? Why don’t you contact us. We’ll help you assess whether a multi-monitor setup is best for you.