Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The pros and cons of multi-screen displays

Historically, how have we coped with computer tasks becoming more numerous and complex? By arranging them in a bigger visual space, of course. Bang, two screens. Sorted.

Around ten years ago, two-monitor displays became the norm for workers who weren’t designers or stock traders, who were the early adapters. But now there is a growing trend of people with no-doubt hideously complicated jobs to utilise three or even four or five screens. This seems like a lot of place for the eyes, and the cursor, to be roaming. Maybe they have more than one mouse, too? And two keyboards, one for each hand?

Web developers and programmers who delve deep into the labyrinth of the computer world are the ones currently pushing three screens. One in the middle, and one flaking on each side. It’s better because you not only have more space, the dividing line doesn’t split down the middle. It’s easier to carve and prioritise with three, because the centre is the nucleus and the other two screens are feeders – for references, background research and Chatroulette.

For a taster of how important this is to the current generation of tech workers, Redditors – always at the forefront of technology – are enthusiastic about multiple displays. “I love my third widescreen monitor. The leap from two to three is orgasmic,” says ‘theseitz’.

More space offers more potential. But that’s more potential for everything – productivity and distraction. One Redditor claims to only use his third display for having sports live streaming, which can hardly be good for focus. Others say they use their third monitor for Netflix and Skype.

One can only assume they work from home.