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Old 07-13-2007, 08:34 AM   #1
Steve Rindsberg
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7,211
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.

Steve Rindsberg
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