In the small 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 or a larger hard drive, I would challenge you to consider upgrading to a dual monitor setup.
What is a Dual 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 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.
Advantages of 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.
Use Programs Simultaneously
By having two monitors, a person can run 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 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.
Reference Critical Information
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.
Simple to Use
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. 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.
Increased Collaboration and Communication
By utilizing a video sharing application, such as Skype, 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 Skype and 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.
Dual Monitors Work Well with Laptops
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. We may do a blog regarding docking stations in the future.
Disadvantages of Multiple Monitors
Though the advantages of dual monitors are virtually unlimited and left up to your creative applications, disadvantages do exist.
• A secondary monitor uses up more desk space. If you are like me, your desk space is precious. I would recommend taking measurements first and considering whether or not the second monitor would economically fit on your desk. Keep in mind that your secondary monitor does not have to be the same size as the first. For instance, my primary monitor is 23.6 inches and my secondary is 19 inches. 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 two monitor ports, so no additional purchase is typically needed outside of the monitor.
• A second monitor uses more computer resources, especially concerning your video card. Yet again, most modern computers are equipped to handle dual monitors. If you are concerned whether or not your computer can support a second monitor, contact us for a complimentary evaluation.
• A second monitor can be distracting. Yet, that I ultimately determined by what you choose to display. If you have your Twitter feed or Facebook pulled up on your second monitor, then you are much more likely to get distracted. I 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.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, using a dual 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 would like to learn more about utilizing multiple displays or have questions, feel free to leave us a comment or contact us via email.