Here at Digitator we are gear junkies. Gear junkies in that we firmly believe that our limitations should be set by our abilities, not the equipment we use.
Our time is our most precious resource, and our drive for efficiency is the reason why we invest in best in class computer hardware and software. It’s also the reason we are constantly looking for new ways to increase our productivity.
One of the must haves that we have for all our work is a dual monitor set-up, both in the office, and on-site at our client’s offices. We’ve calculated that we improve our efficiency by up to 30% – in fact when we are out of the office and working on our laptops without an external screen we get pretty frustrated!
We take this so seriously that we have a number of monitors specifically for when we are working onsite at a clients. Here’s what we’ve learnt:
Laptop plus external monitor
We generally use laptops when we are working remotely – in the office we prefer to use a desktop with two external monitors as we can get more real estate onto a larger screen. Having said that, a good laptop with an external screen gets pretty close to the same improvements in efficiency and is our standard onsite client setup.
Laptop monitor specifications
All our laptops are Full HD (1080) or 4K so that we can multitask without moving between windows. For instance we usually have our email client and a browser window open on the laptop, and whatever we are working on displayed on the external screen.
Laptop external monitor specifications
Our external monitors range from 24″ Full HD to 27″ 4K depending on the type of work that are expecting to doing. If we are dealing with large spreadsheets, say when we are dealing with a lot of data in a spreadsheet such as during a website technical audit, or when creating a link building campaign, the 27″ 4K monitor is invaluable (although when you are running a dual monitor desktop setup, the 27″ monitor isn’t so useful).
Desktop plus dual monitors
A lot of our SEO implementation grunt work is done off-site back in our office. The reasons for this include a good desktop is always going to have more grunt than a laptop, we’re usually dealing with huge file sizes, and the less distraction the better! The other main reason is that we can have dual external monitors, which due to their increased size is always going to be better than a laptop screen and an external monitor.
We’ve tried various iterations of monitors and our preferred combination is a dual 24″ 4K monitors. The reason that we prefer dual 24″ screens is that we’ve found that dual 27″ screens (or even a 27″ screen paired with a 24″ screen) is too wide to work with comfortably. Of course 4K screens are still pretty expensive, and unless you are working with large spreadsheets, or are a designer it can be hard to justify the expense.
For most purposes 24″ Full HD or 2K monitors will work perfectly well, and will cost round about what a single 4K monitor will. In most situations this will enable you to comfortably display 4 browser windows simultaneously.
No need to take our word for it though – research from around the world has shown that using dual monitors results in the following improvements:
- greater productivity
- fewer errors
- happier staff
The great thing for business is that monitors are getting cheaper. For under £100 you can buy a decent Full HD 24″ monitor – and for £200 you can buy 2 of them. You can even pick up a 24″ 4K monitor for under £300 now – it wasn’t so long ago that these were well over £400 each – well out of reach of most businesses.
A University of Utah study reported productivity increases of:
- 33% fewer errors
- 16% faster edits
- 6% quicker access to tasks
- 45% easier task tracking
- 32% faster performance
- 24% more comfortable to use
- Production of work was of a better quality, performed faster and with fewer errors
- Task focus of the user along with their speed and ease of learning were also increased
For example, if your average staff member was to save five minutes an hour in increased productivity (a conservative estimate based off existing research) they would save over 30 minutes a day in time. Over a week that is 2.5 hours. Over a year, that is an extra 130 hours or 3.5 weeks of extra productivity.
You have a outlay of £200, spread over the 5 year average life of the monitors, you can’t argue with that.
Things to remember
- In order to install two screens, your PC will need at least two DVI, HDMI, and/or VGA monitor outputs. HDMI and DVI outputs are preferable – they deliver a better picture.
- If you need to update the video card on your PC to enable dual screens, you can get Dual DVI video cards from around £50 which will be fine for normal computing.
- 24″ 1920 x 1080 monitors are the best combination of size, cost and quality.
- 4K monitors are definitely the future, but they are only just starting to become affordable for the average business.
- If you are going to buy a 27″ monitor, make sure it’s a 4K monitor – you won’t notice much difference between a 24″ Full HD monitor and a 27″ Full HD monitor – you only start to make real efficiency gains with the increased number of pixels of the 4K screen which mean you can show more at a higher quality.