Last Updated on April 23, 2021
In the business environment, companies are looking for ways to improve efficiency when it comes to computer usage. But before you spend money on a faster processor, a larger hard drive, or converting to SSD, we would challenge you to consider upgrading to either a dual or multiple monitor setup.
Essentially a dual monitor setup uses two screens operating from a single computer. Think of it as an extension of your visual workspace. With the right components, computers can even support a multiple monitor setup (3 or more monitors). From a technical standpoint, most dedicated video cards come with at least two ports which allow for dual displays. However, in the case of a video card that is built-into the motherboard, a splitter can be used in some applications.
By looking up your computer information, or more specifically your video card information, you can evaluate whether or not your system can support dual monitors.
Though there are virtually unlimited advantages and applications of a multiple monitor setup, I will briefly list some of the key and most commonly used advantages.
By having two monitors, a person can run and view multiple applications simultaneously. For instance, on the left-hand screen, you can have your email pulled up, while on the right hand screen browse the web or use a design program.
This is a tremendous resource for individuals who typically work with multiple programs that require a large amount of workspace to begin with. Instead of pressing Alt+Tab (or manually clicking!) to switch between programs, one can have an entire screen dedicated to their primary application, while the other can be used for any other program.
Also, sharing data between applications can be much smoother. For instance, if you have a file explorer opened browsing images, you can simply drag the image to the other screen where Photoshop is opened, and it will open the image.
Dual monitors also allow you to have critical information displayed on one screen for reference purposes, while utilizing the second for your actual work. For example, one screen could have a PDF file with specific regulations while you are utilizing the other screen to generate a report in Microsoft Word.
Likewise, dual monitors allow for easy comparisons between files. At Igniting Business, we are continually learning new programming languages or utilizing video tutorials. Frequently, we can be found viewing instructional videos on our secondary screen, while concurrently repeating the steps in the program on our primary screen.
The ability to use dual monitors comes with most modern computers, including laptops. Though you may have a computer technician initially configure the monitors, continued use is relatively easy. The settings for multiple monitors are located with same controls as your individual monitor, requiring no extra software.
Additionally, using the monitors is as simple as dragging the application or program from one screen to another. Microsoft Windows even remembers which monitor you last used to open a particular program. For instance, if you open and drag your email program to your left monitor, the next time that program is opened it defaults to that monitor.
By utilizing a video conferencing application, such as Zoom or Zoho Meeting, one can have the video of the person they are chatting with pulled up on one screen while reference their files on the other. Additionally, with Zoom or Zoho Meeting or many other communication tools, you can choose to share one screen via the program. For instance, we recently assisted a client in communication with an employee who was working remotely. The employee was sharing his screen and walking through a Solid Works (computer aided drafting program) drawing with his supervisor while still being able to video chat at the same time.
Perhaps even a greater advantage is the ability to add a second monitor to a laptop. At Igniting Business, we use what is often termed as a "docking station." A user can simply bring their laptop to the docking station, plug in two cords and instantly have access to a second larger monitor, USB hub, wireless keyboard and mouse, speakers and more! This can serve as an excellent alternative to having both a laptop and desktop computer.
Note that if you are a frequent traveler, we recommend Asus’ Portable Monitor which is extremely compact, light, and only requires one cable to plug into your computer to start working.
Once one begins enjoying the efficiencies gained from using dual monitors, an experienced user is often tempted to explore adding additional monitors to truly build out their multiple monitor setup. How many monitors you can use at once is completely based upon your computer specifications and personal comfort level. Most modern computers, including laptops, can all natively support dual monitors. However, if you want to support 3, 4, or even more monitors, the technical resources needed are typically more expensive. We visited one office where nine monitors were in use at once (note that this might be a bit overkill)! Typically, your video card (or motherboard if you do not have a discrete/dedicated graphics card) dictates how many monitors your computer can support.
For example, most team members at the Igniting Business office have between 2-4 monitors depending on their role and needs. Depending on your day-to-day tasks, you will likely find a unique sweet spot for your unique workflow. If you find yourself toggling back and forth frequently to reference different files or applications, consider whether adding an additional monitor to keep that valuable resource pulled up would be helpful.
Don’t forget that a more efficient work environment can lead to faster project completion, quicker estimate creation, more billable work completed, or simply more free time with your friends or family!
Though the advantages of multiple monitors are virtually unlimited and left up to your creative applications, disadvantages do exist.
If you are like us, your desk space is precious. We would recommend taking measurements first and considering whether or not the second monitor would logistically fit on your desk. Keep in mind that your secondary monitor does not have to be the same size as the first. For instance, our CFO’s primary monitor is 24”, and she has an additional 21” monitor and a 19” monitor. Buy according to your budget, needs, and space.
Naturally, adding a second monitor costs more. However, the prices on monitors have come down significantly in the last few years while still maintaining quality, and the increased productivity leads to recurring savings regarding efficiency. Additionally, most dedicated video cards now come with at least two monitor ports, so no additional purchase is typically needed for two monitors outside of the monitor itself. If you want three or more monitors, you may need to upgrade/replace your video card.
A second or third monitor uses more computer resources, especially concerning your video card. Yet again, most modern computers are equipped to handle at least dual monitors out-of-the-box. If you are concerned whether or not your computer can support a second or third monitor, contact your local IT Services provider.
Multiple monitors can be distracting. Yet, that is ultimately determined by what you choose to display. If you have your social media feed or a local sports game pulled up on your second monitor, then you are much more likely to get distracted! We personally find that the benefits far outweigh the potential for distraction. Ultimately, if you do find yourself getting distracted on a particular day and need to focus down, you can always turn off the second monitor temporarily.
Ultimately, using a dual or multiple monitor set up leads to an increase in productivity due to a larger and more flexible visual workspace. Fortunately, the associated costs for this setup have dropped dramatically in recent years. If you’ve still on the fence of whether or not to buy your first dual or multiple monitor setup, we encourage you to give it a try. Or, at very least, talk to a friend who currently uses a multiple monitor setup and see what they have to say about the experience.
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