How Many Monitors Is Too Many?

Illustration for article titled How Many Monitors Is Too Many?

At Gizmodo, many of us are fans of the multi-monitor set-up. It's not surprising: it lets us simultaneously keep an eye on breaking news, email, our writing and graphics, too. But is there a limit to how useful multiple monitors can be?

The New York Times reports that use of more than one monitor is spreading. No longer is it the domain of the engineer, the programmer and the online gamer. No, bankers, journalists, and anybody else who multi-tasks at a computer is getting on board, too. I use two at home, with one being used for writing and email, the other for Gimp, Twitter, and news feeds. It works well.

And there's proof it works, too. Kind of. Speaking to the New York Times, Professor James A. Anderson discussed some research he conducted into how productivity increases with number of monitors. Admittedly, the project was funded by NEC, but he claims that didn't influence work. Let's believe him, just this once. The results? Using more monitors cuts down on toggling time among windows on a single screen, uh, as you'd expect. Anderson has calculated that it can save about 10 seconds for every five minutes of work if you have a dual-monitor set-up. Over the course of an eight hour day, that's a saving of, oooh, 15 minutes.


Anderson says he uses three monitors himself. Above that, though, he says it's hard to generalize about whether more monitors are better. But now monitors are cheaper, there's no reason people can't rock a four- or six-display desk. So I guess at that point, seeing as science isn't helping us, it's over to you guys. Is less ever more? [New York Times, Image: Ginnerobot]

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I read somewhere that it's the desktop size is important and not the multiple monitors. Beyond a certain point, it's not useful to add another one. It's just the two smaller monitors used to be much cheaper than a bigger one, but I think we're at the point where you can buy a 28" screen or whatever and get by just fine.

Personally, a single monitor works just fine at home when I focus on one thing at a time (plus, I have a laptop). At work, two is nice, one big one for the CAD program and the other for everything else. CAD programs are better the bigger they are and are a pain to use if not in fullscreen. Having a second monitor lets me use multiple windows at once while having the CAD program filling all the space that it can.