Improving Efficiency via One 30 Inch Monitor vs. Dual Monitors

Improving Efficiency via One 30 Inch Monitor vs. Dual Monitors

I purchased a 30″ widescreen computer monitor after tax season last year – and I’ve really come to like it a lot.

It replaced a dual-monitor setup on my desk, which I’d had for over five years. I’ve hesitated to go monster monitor in the past, because it can become quite a chore to drag and resize open application windows across the wide desktop expanse. However, with Windows 7, keyboard shortcuts and other features eliminate this problem, making bigger monitors more practical. For instance, “Windows key” + “right arrow” will maximize the active program on the right half of the screen. Similar process for left. I use these shortcuts all the time.

It took a little getting used to the new monitor, but I’ve come to prefer it over the dual setup. A few observations from my experiences:

  1. I noticed I didn’t really get any more side-to-side real estate; I had roughly the same space from left to right. However, I did get more vertical real estate, which translates to documents appearing greater than actual size and makes it easier to read from the screen.
  2. Having the ability to maximize a spreadsheet, document proof or other content across 30″ has come in handier than I expected. Now, when I’m working on multiple tabs in a single spreadsheet, I can see both at the same time … or really big comparison matrices actually make sense because I can fit them legibly on one screen. (HD video content also looks really cool, though less useful for accounting, I’ll admit).
  3. I’ve taken to placing the taskbar along the left-hand side of the screen, instead of along the bottom. I’m not really sure why, but this just seems to work better.

About cost, a 30″ monitor, if purchased new, is likely going to set you back around $1,000 to $1,500, though you can find some models both above and below that range. I generally evaluate the “bang-for-buck ratio” fairly rigorously before making any technology purchases. Yet, I’ve also adopted the philosophy that there’s no use skimping on something I use frequently – and in this case, all day, every day – especially when I think it will make a difference.

If you’re curious about whether a 30″ monitor might work for you, I’d suggest you do what I did: visit an Apple store and play around with the 30″ models they have on display. I didn’t actually get an Apple monitor, but it helped me get a sense of what it would be like. I also found that for me, there was no use going with a 27″ or 28″ widescreen; the real benefit came from the 30″.

In the end, with just moderate research into specs, I settled on a Dell 3008WFP. Of course, the week after, they had a temporary $200 off sale, but I wasn’t going back.