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Old 07-13-2007, 09:34 AM   #1
Steve Rindsberg
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Default Monitors: one lump or two?

Why choose one large monitor over two smaller ones?
Or the other way round?

It seems to me that Mac users prefer one great big monitor, where most of my PC-driving friends seem to go for two or more smaller ones. Or maybe it's not Mac/PC but DTPeople vs OtherWeirdness.

So ... folks? Which do you prefer? One big display or several smaller ones? Or several big ones, what the heck.

And why?

And what do you do with them?

Me? OK. More than you'd ever want to know:

Two 17" Samsung SyncMaster 730b LCDs each at 1280x1024 (no, I can't remember model numbers; it's right here on the front of the monitor) attached to a Windows desktop computer, though not the one I do most of my work on.

Mostly use the system for programming and PPT work.

Why two smallish rather than one big?

I also looked at 19" monitors from the same manufacturer, but the 17s seemed plenty big and fit the workspace better. And were cheaper, though that wasnt' the main consideration. And either way, two looked to be considerably less money than one big display of approximately the same pixel-area.

With a splitter box or KVM, I can share one of the monitors with another computer (a server that normally doesn't need a monitor attached). In fact, since the monitors have both analog and DVI inputs, I can use the DVI/Analog switch built into the monitor itself for this. Away went the KVM.

If one monitor goes down, I can still use the other and can get a replacement for the dead one quickly and inexpensively. If it were one big fella, I'd be dead in the water.

Likewise, I can borrow one of them temporarily, say to use with the Mac laptop.

I like the "wraparound" effect you can get by angling the two monitors inward, rather than the "Wall 'o Pixels" look.

I suspect it's easier (and cheaper) to find a display board that can drive two 1280x1024 displays than one capable of handling an equivalent number of pixels on one large display. The one I got for 60 or 70 bucks seems entirely adequate, except that I'd have liked two rather than one DVI port.

I've no real need for one huge working area but keeping several apps going, each on a different screen, is hugely useful. In fact, most of the time I've got a virtual machine running on screen two. Write code on the left, test it in a "clean" machine on the right. Very handy indeed.

PowerPoint has a feature that allows you to show a presentation on one screen while viewing your notes and slide thumbnails and controlling navigation from another screen. I don't use it myself but occasionally need to test things with it. Having two screens enables me to do this. I suppose I could add a second cheapie monitor even if I had a great big single screen, but it'd be a bit inconvenient. And where would I *put* it? ;-)

One drawback: my video card has one DVI and one analog output, so I'm stuck using analog to feed one of the two monitors. With the KVM in the loop (extra cable length, more connections, etc) the analog video was pretty nasty looking unless you got all the settings adjusted perfectly. Then it was merely suboptimal. With the KVM out of the loop, both displays look fine to me.

   
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Old 07-13-2007, 11:14 AM   #2
Robin Springall
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I use a 19" monitor with a smaller one to the side, and I shove as many pallettes and other windows as I can onto the little one, leaving pretty much the whole of the main screen for the artwork. Trouble is, InDesign won't let me put all the bits I want on the side screen, eg colours (aargh!): if I could justify the expense, I'd use a stonking great 24" wide-aspect monster and position the pallettes and flyouts to the side. <sigh>

   
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Old 07-13-2007, 12:19 PM   #3
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Years ago, when the Mac still had a built-in small screen (the Mac SE), I had a monitor hooked up alongside. Drove me nearly crazy. Because of the bulk of the large monitor (21-inch) and the way the little one fit into the Mac case, the stuff on the little screen was physically quite far away, requiring long arm movements to access the palettes, menus, or whatever I had there. And they were out of my field of view until I turned my head somewhat.

It would be easier today, Iā€™m sure. Monitors have less framing and less bulk in general. But I hang on to my distaste for that arrangement.

I am thinking about a 30-inch, though. Working with a 23-inch display lets me envision exactly how I would use the larger one.

   
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Old 07-13-2007, 02:23 PM   #4
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When I had a (very nice) Apple portrait monitor for DTP work, I got a 14 inch colour monitor to go with it. Unfortunately, this caused problems with PageMaker because the tabs dialogue box always appeared off the screen on the colour monitor. Since then, I've been a one-monitor person ā€“ Sony Tromotrpm Multiscan 300sf - until I bought my current system, a 17 inch MacBook Pro, which I bought with an external 20 inch Apple monitor.

However, as I still have to get rid of the monster Sony CRT, I haven't yet opened the box with the 20 inch monitor in it.

The 17 inch screen on the MacBook Pro is much better for dealing with the palettes and flyouts in InDesign, although I'm still having difficulty with those, having moved from InDesign CS to InDesign CS3 at the same time as I moved Macs and thus monitors.

At work they have ordered me dual 19 inch LCD screens to replace my current single 17 inch so that I can control remote PCs via PC Duo, but they haven't arrived yet.

   
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Old 07-14-2007, 05:49 PM   #5
dthomsen8
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Default One good sized monitor, but...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Rindsberg View Post
So ... folks? Which do you prefer? One big display or several smaller ones? Or several big ones, what the heck.
Just one good-sized monitor has been what I have always used, and of course "good-sized" has grown with the technology advances and price reductions over the years.

Another alternative has been to use two computers, one doing the development, and the second one to look at the web site being developed. I especially liked that with PHP, publish over here, run it over there.
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Old 07-15-2007, 10:42 PM   #6
marlene
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I've never considered using two monitors because I just don't have the space on my desk.

And because I have to wear progressive lens eyeglasses, I already have to turn my head a million times a day -- if I were looking back and forth between two monitors, I'd probably have a permanent crick in my neck. But since I haven't actually tried it, I'm just speculating.

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Old 07-16-2007, 02:35 PM   #7
Steve Rindsberg
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I'm not arguing one way or t'other, 'cause you know your own eyes best.
But FWIW, I've got progressives as well and don't have any trouble with two 17" monitors, partially, I imagine, because I can angle them inward, so that more or less the whole surface is at a constant distance. I hate doing the bobblywobbly too. <g>

   
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