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2 Smaller 20"+ Monitors Better Than 1 Big 27" One?


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#1 RisaBB

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 08:02 AM

Hi All,

I asked this question last year if it was excessive to have more than 1 monitor and it seemed from the responses that it was barbaric to have only 1 monitor. For people with 2 monitors (and some had 3), if one broke, it felt like an arm was cut off.

Anyway, my 22" monitor died and I bought a 27" one, which seems HUGE, but I can't get the resolution of my computer to go higher than 1680 x 1050 and this one requires 1920 x 1080. I called Viewsonic who said it's my computer, and I called Dell, who said that my graphics card can support an even higher resolution. I can't figure out this problem and don't want to pay $60 to Dell for one-time tech support, and I searched extensively on Google for an answer to this problem, and posted a question in Dell's forum, to no avail.

I thought maybe I should return this 27" and get two 20" + monitors.

Does that sound like the way to go? That 27" one is MASSIVE!!! I can't believe I could possibly need more space.

What do you think?

Thanks.

Risa

#2 jonbey

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 08:24 AM

Well, I have a 22in and a 20in, which works well for me. The only person I know that was given a choice of two 22 or one 30 inch went for a 30.

Depends how you like to work. I work mostly on my 22 with the 20 to the right, which currently has BBC News showing. Most of my "business management" stuff happens on the right, along with items I am reviewing while writing. So 2 works well for me. But many like a big one.

Dell .... let me see .... (I have a Dell)

Dunno. My graphics card was quite cheap (but not using the on-board graphics) and only goes up to 1680 1050 too.

Something like this could be worth the investment (if it is the right connection type!): PNY GeForce 8400GS 512MB DDR2 DMS59 Low Profile PCI-Express Video Card VCG84DMS5R3SXPB - Amazon link

It says:

Product Features and Technical Details
Product Features
Chipset: GeForce 8400GS Engine Clock: 520 MHz Video Memory: 512MB DDR2
Memory Clock: 800 MHz Memory Interface: 64-bit Memory Bandwidth: 6.4 GB/s
Bus: PCI-Express 2.0 x16 RAMDAC: 400 MHz
Max. Resolution: 2560 x 1600 Connectors: DMS59(to VGA+VGA or DVI-I+DVI-I or DVI-I+VGA via Cable) Thermal: Fanless
Support Windows 7 Support nVidia Unified Architecture Support nVidia CUDA technology Support nVidia PureVideo HD technology Support DirectCompute
Support HDCP - High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection Support Microsoft DirectX 10 and OpenGL 3.1 Low Profile Design
Technical Details
Device Type: Video Card
Model: VCG84DMS5R3SXPB


So certainly has the resolution.

If you have a big flashy monitor it may be good to get a graphics card to do it justice.

Edited by jonbey, 06 April 2011 - 08:26 AM.


#3 Ron Carnell

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 09:50 AM

Do you know what graphics card you have, Risa? If so, I would suggest going to Dell's support site to download and install the latest and greatest video driver for it. If your OS is using a generic windows driver, that would explain why Dell is telling you the card will support a higher resolution than what your computer is allowing. Using the right driver might solve that problem.

Oh, and trust me, you'll get used to all that screen real estate faster than you might think. Six months from now, you'll think 1920x1080 is the bare minimum you can imagine using. That's especially true for graphics programs. I wouldn't give up on the big screen, Risa, if you can possibly avoid it. :)

#4 AbleReach

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 06:47 PM

Definitely see if you can update your drivers. You should be able to do a driver upgrade yourself. If you get stuck I'll bet someone here can walk you through.

#5 jonbey

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 01:40 PM

Or you could do this. Saw this photo on the Smugmug facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/SmugMug , but cannot hotlink due to new facebook image service!

So here it is (sorry about the size...):

Posted Image

Edited by jonbey, 08 April 2011 - 01:44 PM.


#6 RisaBB

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 02:02 PM

Hi All,

Thanks for the responses. I heard EGOL has 3 monitors so that must be what his set-up looks like. I'm going to try Ron's idea, and even if that doesn't work, I think I'm beginning to like the idea of 2 20' or 22" monitors and find out what all the fuss is about! I'm excited!!

Risa

#7 EGOL

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 02:21 PM

I was using three big monitors for a while but went back to two.... I was getting a sunburn on my face - no kidding!

Edited by EGOL, 08 April 2011 - 02:21 PM.


#8 RisaBB

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 05:21 PM

I'm sure this is a dumb question, because I just had to do a search to see if it's the graphics card that the monitor gets plugged into. I didn't realize that part of the graphics card popped out of the computer, but anyway, do I need 2 graphics cards if I'm getting 2 monitors, or at least one graphics card with a dual port? I can't make it work with one graphics card, right?

#9 AbleReach

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 06:05 PM

Look to see if the graphics card has two places to plug something into. :(
There are two sorts of plugs in circulation, so some cards have one of each.

How did you make out with the driver upgrade?

#10 DCrx

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 08:25 PM

Looking into a multi-monitor setup because you heard someone else had one? That, to me, sounds barbaric.

And I mean litterally barbaric; as in cargo cults.

And I say this as my sister has a multi-monitor setup at work. I prefer a multidesk. What's that ...? Never heard of that?

OMG ...how ruefully unhip or you.

Multiple monitors are useful when you're, say, writing code and compiling on one (standard aspect ratio) monitor and looking through a codebase on the other. In other words, when you have some conceivable reason.

Otherwise, it can be an annoying distraction.

Try not to be tragically hip. The only possible outcome is tragedy.

Edited by DCrx, 09 April 2011 - 08:40 PM.


#11 RisaBB

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 08:27 PM

I did what Ron said and went to Dell and installed the latest driver upgrade to no avail. But now I'm more interested in two 22" screens anyway. I guess I shouldn't be intimidated by opening up the back of my computer to install a graphics card, right? Is it no big deal? I don't really like the thought of doing this.

#12 DCrx

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 08:50 PM

I guess I shouldn't be intimidated by opening up the back of my computer to install a graphics card, right? Is it no big deal? I don't really like the thought of doing this.


Of course not. The little fact that the NEWER driver for my graphics card screwed up my system isn't a problem. I downgraded, and problem solved.

Edited by DCrx, 09 April 2011 - 08:50 PM.


#13 RisaBB

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 08:56 PM

well that doesn't sound too encouraging. your computer couldn't support it? why would a newer graphics card be a problem? how lamo.

#14 DCrx

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 08:59 PM

Upgrades -- and I am the technical support guru for my group -- are not always UPgrades.

Hence downgrades.

It isn't supposed to work like that. And -- for the most part -- upgrades are not a problem.

As someone who has had to operate a computer (and this is a whole different system than what I just described) with a blank monitor because of incompatibilities -- and successfully did so -- it's not that easy.

Monitors are surprisingly useful. I recommend not doing without a functional monitor.

Edited by DCrx, 09 April 2011 - 09:06 PM.


#15 EGOL

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 09:04 PM

Multiple monitors are useful when you're, say, writing code and compiling on one (standard aspect ratio) monitor and looking through a codebase on the other. In other words, when you have some conceivable reason.

You have not used multiple monitors very much?

#16 DCrx

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 09:10 PM

My sister does medical coding and other things on a two (physical monitor) setup. Having tried, I am not a fan.

I haven't been forced to "like it." What I prefer is multidesk. This is especially true for those widescreen LCDs.

Once again, each to his own. But I find my experiences are far, far, more diverse than others.

What I lack is length. I haven't done a two physical monitor setup for a year.

What I find is a whole whopping lot of people who have not tried all different things, then saying they prefer what they got stuck with.

Edited by DCrx, 09 April 2011 - 09:16 PM.


#17 RisaBB

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 09:17 PM

Try not to be tragically hip. The only possible outcome is tragedy.


there's something tragically very funny about that!!

despite the potential tragic consequences, it seems that to be tragically fearful of the unknown, might keep me from trying this relatively small investment, which might have a profound impact on my ....productivity??? which would indeed be a tragedy. I feel very shakespearian. Thank you DCrx for the only contrary view I have read on this tragic topic. You have made me chuckle, thought I'm not sure that was your intent, and that would be tragic (as is my sense of humor! HA!!!)

Edited by RisaBB, 09 April 2011 - 09:18 PM.


#18 DCrx

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 09:21 PM

it seems that to be tragically fearful of the unknown, might keep me from trying this relatively small investment, which might have a profound impact on my ....productivity???



Once again, this goes back to the usability tests nobody actually does. Hearsay and innuendo, for sure. Fads and gimmicks, no doubt.

Results ...not a chance.

Before you brand me a luddite, do a search on multidesk software. What a multidesk is. What a multidesk does. You may develop a better opinion of my advice.

Edited by DCrx, 09 April 2011 - 09:22 PM.


#19 AbleReach

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 11:09 PM

I guess I shouldn't be intimidated by opening up the back of my computer to install a graphics card, right? Is it no big deal? I don't really like the thought of doing this.

Awww Risa. :(

It's fine not to want to do it yourself. Is there is a *real* computer store in your area? You want the kind with people who actually work on computers, not the kind with employees who want to sell you a tech support contract. They can be very fast. Once in a while, if a place like that is not busy, they'll cut you a deal on installation if you bought the video card there. Once I lost my Windows admin password and a place like that refused to take money for getting into my registry so I could re-set it. They weren't very busy, it didn't cost them any money to do and they're great neighbors - a delight to deal with.


/edited - said "WordPress admin" - meant "Windows admin"/

#20 A.N.Onym

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 04:26 AM

Usually, a plugged in (not motherboard) graphics card has two plug-ins: for each of the two types of monitor connections. If you have a connector with the monitor or the card, you'll be able to use two monitors. Or just find a card with two same ins (I forgot what it's called :( ).

It's not that hard to insert a card as long as you know where to put it in. There are a few similar slots, but it's probably shown in the manual.

Edited by A.N.Onym, 10 April 2011 - 04:27 AM.


#21 tam

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 08:04 AM

Post your graphics card and I'm sure someone here can tell you if it will support two.

Inside a computer is much less complicated than you'd expect. To swap out a card, you open your computer. There is a little screw inside holding the card in - unscrew it. The card then lifts out. You put the new card in and put the screw back.

I think it's the easy part compared to getting all the software/drivers to work :(

#22 RisaBB

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 05:32 PM

Hi Tam,

My graphics card is ATI Radeon HD 3650.

Re: 2 monitors, what do you do with them? Do you have one always opened to, say, Outlook, and your own website, and the other one has a graphics program open, or word or excel open?

Right now, with the 10 or so programs I have running, I just click on the tab on the bottom to open it, and it never seemed like a hassle to me.

What do 2 screens do for you that one screen doesn't? Now, I'm convinced - I'm going for it - I'm just not sure what to expect.

Thanks, all.

Risa

Edited by RisaBB, 10 April 2011 - 05:34 PM.


#23 jonbey

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 06:01 PM

I find blogging very handy with 2 screens, especially if I am reviewing something, just means less flicking between windows. Sometimes I just use no.2 for videos, email, skype etc.

#24 RisaBB

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 06:07 PM

I just googled my graphics card and found a site that had lots of specs for this graphics card including:

# Two integrated dual-link DVI display outputs

* Each supports 18-, 24-, and 30-bit digital displays at all resolutions up to 1920x1200 (single-link DVI) or 2560x1600 (dual-link DVI)2
* Each includes a dual-link HDCP encoder with on-chip key storage for high resolution playback of protected content3

# Two integrated DisplayPort™ outputs

* Each supports 24- and 30-bit displays at all resolutions up to 2560x16002
* 1, 2, or 4 lanes per output, with data rate up to 2.7 Gbps per lane



So, that seems to me that it should support either the 27" monitor that requires 1920 resolution AND 2 monitors, right? Am I reading this correctly?

Risa

#25 AbleReach

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 07:10 PM

Yes.

Did you do OK with the driver upgrade?

If you have two monitors with the same sort of plug, get an adapter - they're maybe $10.


Added - From my google - dual link does not mean two monitors. However, it's unusual for two plugins not to mean two monitors!

What is your graphics card model?

#26 AbleReach

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 07:22 PM

If it's this one, this is the news you were looking for:


Two independent display controllers

Drive two displays simultaneously with independent resolutions, refresh rates, color controls and video overlays for each display



#27 RisaBB

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 07:34 PM

Hi Liz, it's an ATI Radeon™ HD 3650 and I believe I found the specs here.

I did install the latest drivers and just had windows do a test to confirm that I have the latest drivers. What, then, would explain why my resolution does not go above 1680 x 1050?

And even though the spec says dual port, I only see one place to plug a monitor into.

thanks, Risa

#28 iamlost

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 09:04 PM

Hi Risa...

You may have a problem, courtesy of Dell, hooking up two monitors.
IF your 3650 connectors look like the one in this picture with dual DVI connectors (and one S-Video) you are good to go.

IF your 3650 connectors look like the one in this picture with one DVI, one HDMI and one S-Video connector you are not. You could hook up to a TV though.

Edited by iamlost, 10 April 2011 - 09:06 PM.


#29 RisaBB

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 09:46 PM

Hi Iamlost, I have the one in the 2nd picture - with just one port, so I guess I need another graphics card if I want two monitors. In the meantime, I'd like to try to hook up the 27" one just to check it out.

I thought I got the latest drivers from Dell, but then I went to the website of AMD Radeon and for about 20 nerveracking minutes I uninstalled the drivers and reinstalled them (programs were taking very long to open after the uninstall so I thought they were gone forever).

What I find so perplexing is why the resolution still won't go higher than 1680 x 1050 and every kind of query I formulate in Google will not answer this question.

Thanks.

Risa

#30 Ron Carnell

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 10:25 PM

I did install the latest drivers and just had windows do a test to confirm that I have the latest drivers. What, then, would explain why my resolution does not go above 1680 x 1050?


The other side of that equation, Risa, is the monitor itself. Windows won't let you set a higher resolution than what the monitor supports. Or, uh, what it thinks the monitor can support.

When you go into "Display Settings" from the Control Panel there should be an indication of what Windows thinks you're running. Mine, for example, says "Dell 24WFP on NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GS." The first is the monitor, the second is the graphics card. There is ALSO a setting for "Generic PnP monitor on NVIDIA yada yada." The second setting won't work nearly as well as the first. :)

Did your new monitor come with drivers?

What do 2 screens do for you that one screen doesn't?


Absolutely nothing, Risa . . . IF the square inches of screen real estate are the same. Of course, they're not usually the same, are they? In my opinion, it's screen real estate that improves productivity, not necessarily the number of monitors. The more screen you have, the more you can do.

Square inch for square inch, multiple monitors are typically more cost effective than huge monitors. That's their big draw. And for most people who use discrete windowed applications, they work just as well as a big screen. What do I mean by discrete? I often have Excel running in one window and my browser in another; each is a discrete window and I can put one on one monitor and the other on the other monitor. The windows are still side by side, making it easy for me to compare data between the two. I also very frequently write reviews in Word while browsing what I'm reviewing in a different window. Discrete windows. Dual monitors work great for applications like this.

You and I, however, use a few applications that demand a lot of screen real estate but do NOT easily support discrete windows. Can you spell Photoshop? :)

You "can" use Photoshop spread across multiple monitors, but I personally don't find it very convenient to do so. On the other hand, a huge monitor makes working in Photoshop a real pleasure because you don't have to open and close all those (non-discrete) windows every time you need something. Instead, they're all sitting on your desktop -- and you STILL have tons of blank canvas for your actual work.

Everything you can do on dual monitors you can do on one monitor IF the one monitor is as big as the two monitors combined. There are, however, some things you can do on a giant monitor that cannot easily be duplicated on dual monitors of equal screen real estate. In an ideal world, where cost wasn't a factor, putting in two of those 27 inch screens would be your best bet. :)

#31 Ron Carnell

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 10:32 PM

Hi Iamlost, I have the one in the 2nd picture - with just one port, so I guess I need another graphics card if I want two monitors.


Maybe, but not necessarily. Chances are good that your new monitor supports HDMI; most big monitors do these days, I think. And if not, HDMI to DVI adapters are pretty cheap. :)

#32 JohnMu

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 02:01 PM

I love my two 24" monitors - they make life so much easier :-). I also use 6 additional desktops (in Ubuntu), which adds even more screen real-estate.

I've found that even without using different applications, many jobs are just easier if you can have all the necessary information available without having to open / close / hide / move windows. While I do almost everything in a browser, I still have many separate browser windows (each with too many open tabs, but that's a different story :-)), so that I can just click on the right one and continue working in it (instead of searching the task-bar to find the right one and opening / closing it on demand). The only down-side to having that much room is that you tend to leave things open, instead of closing them when you're done for the time-being. That means you need more RAM than before :-).

I haven't used a single, giant monitor, so I can't really compare that. Maybe this is just me, but I tend not to use windows that cross monitors, it always looks confusing to me :) -- if you need to use a single, large application, then maybe a single, larger monitor would work better because you can keep your eyes focused on the single screen. Finally, I've found that even when using the same model of monitor, they tend to be slightly "different" in terms of color & contrast. This continues to confuse me at home (two different monitors, bad idea), where I have to remember to use the right monitor when messing with my photos, since the left one has a slightly different setting.

My last computer in the office was also a Dell, that used a special Y-cable to connect both monitors via DVI. I don't know if that was something specific to that model though, and since I don't have it any more, I couldn't say whether or not that would work on your graphic card too. I know that doesn't help much though :-).

Regarding resolution, what do your display settings say? Does the monitor type match? Do you have a VGA port on the monitor as well? Maybe it's worth checking to see if you can set the higher resolution that way -- just to confirm that your graphics card could handle it.

Cheers
John

#33 RisaBB

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 03:53 PM

Hi John, Thanks for that endorsement of multiple monitors.

Last night I was successful at getting my resolution to go to 1980. Thank goodness, because it was bugging me. I followed Ron's link to get the latest drivers for my graphics card from Dell and that didn't work. Then I went to the website of the graphics card and followed those instructions and uninstalled and re-installed things. That didn't work. Then I called the graphics card company, who said that I really needed to get the latest drivers from Dell. I tried that again at Dell and IT WORKED. Maybe it worked because I uninstalled and re-installed things.

It only took a few minutes of looking at the 27" screen to know that I was not happy at all. It was way to massive. I'm farsighted - I sit at the back row of movie theatres. This made me feel like I was in the front row. My eyes were bugging out. I was very happy with my 22" so now I'll get 2 of those, and I'll get a new graphics card to support it. Thanks, Iamlost for sending those pictures of my graphics card.

Thanks for everybody's help. I'll send photos when I'm all set up. On another topic, it seems like an LED monitor is the way to go, right, vs. and LCD?

#34 jonbey

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 05:05 PM

At the moment I have Google Webmaster Tools open in my 22in screen (front view) which I am using to trawl through errors, and my "Panda Changes" spreadsheet open in Google Docs in my right screen. So easy to update changes as I fix (hopefully) things. :)

#35 DonnaFontenot

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Posted 08 May 2011 - 11:44 AM

For various reasons related to working with client documents, I've had to make the decision to reconsider my computing needs. I've been using Linux Mint on a 4 year old desktop computer for a while now. I love Linux because it frees me from always worrying about having to pay for OS upgrades (as well as for a lot of other reasons). But I'm in a place now where I just really have to use Windows much more, so it was time to make some changes. I went out and bought a nice mid-range laptop running Windows 7 that is quite a bit more powerful than my old desktop and should be enough to work well into the future (for a while).

I also got a docking station for it, and I plugged my giant 24" monitor into it (as well as an external backlit keyboard and mouse, the printer, etc). Then, I installed Microsoft Desktops (http://technet.micro...ernals/cc817881) on the laptop which lets me have 4 different desktops for Windows.

So here's how I have all this arranged.

First, on the laptop itself, I have a text editor, an IM client, and my music player open and running on Desktop 1. If I flip to Desktop 2, I have my Tomboy Notes open and running (quick access to important info that I constantly need each day). If I flip to Desktop 3, I have some webmaster/seo tools open and running. If I flip to Desktop 4, I see a blank screen, waiting for me to open whatever app I want at the time. (Usually a game).

Now, here's what happens on the big monitor when I flip through all those virtual desktops on the laptop.

Desktop 1 has my browser open full screen on the 24' monitor. So while I'm browsing on the big monitor, I can keep an eye on my IM on the laptop screen, and easily edit web pages in the text editor on the laptop, and review the results in the browser on the big monitor.

Desktop 2 shows nothing on the big monitor by default. Can drag whatever open application I want onto it as needed.

Desktop 3 shows nothing on the big monitor by default. Can drag whatever open application I want onto it as needed.

Desktop 4 shows nothing on the big monitor by default. Can drag whatever open application I want onto it as needed.

So what happens if I decide to disconnect my laptop from the docking station, so I can take it somewhere else? Anything showing on the big monitor automatically moves itself to the laptop screen. As far as I can tell (only just started using this), when I reconnect to the docking station, I need to drag the browser (or whatever I want to show on the big monitor) back to the big monitor. So that part doesn't seem to be automatic. Still, it's just drag-and-drop, so no big deal.

I can set the resolution of each screen independently, so there's no problem with the big monitor having to limit itself to whatever resolution the laptop screen is using.

This arrangement is great for me. I also have the old Linux mint desktop computer beside me, in case I get a hankering for some linuxy goodness. It probably won't be used much, but I envision making use of it to do some long processing tasks or something like that.

The one thing that takes the most adjusting to is moving the mouse from one screen to another, and turning my body back and forth. Minor things, but they actually do take some getting used to.

By using a docking station, I can plug all the peripherals into it, and only have one cord going from the docking station to the laptop. That means I only have to plug or unplug one cord every time I want to move the laptop to or from my desk. Also, Windows 7 automatically notices when an external monitor is attached to a laptop (regardless of whether it's attached directly to the laptop or via a docking station). So as soon as an external monitor is plugged into the laptop, Windows 7 asks how you want to set that up (showing the same thing on both monitors or making the external monitor an "extension" of the laptop screen, which is what I've been discussing above, so that some things can be run on the "extended" screen, and other things run on the laptop screen). That means you don't need to worry about having a video card with two ports, or any of that. It just works.

So that's how I'm currently using my computer assets to best suit me. I'm pretty happy with the arrangement.

#36 bwelford

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Posted 08 May 2011 - 11:49 AM

I'm green with envy, Donna. That sounds a most efficient way of handling all your needs.

:applause:

#37 DianeV

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Posted 18 May 2011 - 02:59 AM

Strange I just happened to check in here when this discussion was going on. Hi all! :lol:

A few years back, I agonized about getting a 30 inch monitor. The cost of the large monitor was double what it is now, but my thought was that I just needed more screen width when dealing with design stuff, which would get larger and wider as time went on and people bought larger monitors. I considered buying two medium sized monitors, but I didn't like the idea that, for instance, I might have to stretch Photoshop across the two monitors, with the hardware splitting up my view. I finally decided to treat myself, and I've been happy with it ever since. If anything happens to my large monitor (the 30 inch), I'll just get another one.

The large monitor is where I do my working/loafing/etc., and the second monitor I use mostly to run MailWasher Pro to check email from our various websites (sometimes I use monitor #2 for other stuff as well).

As it happens, I wrote an article in 2007 with a number of screenshots to illustrate just how much a large monitor can enhance your productivity (let alone ease and happiness) -- and I don't set it to the highest resolution, as I don't tend to sit up with my face in the monitor: http://developedtraf...-and-enjoyment/

(And EGOL, ouch! re the sunburn!)

Also, for multiple monitors, bear in mind that the Windows (if you're doing Windows) taskbar will only display on your main monitor -- so that taskbar is going to display tabs for all of the programs you've got running on both/all monitors. This is pretty confusing and isn't user-friendly at all — but the UltraMon taskbar program will give you the second/multiple taskbars.

Anyway ... :)



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