In Financial Express, Press

For the last two years, I have been half-heartedly thinking of setting up two computer monitors for my PC. One half knew it would be cool, the other half knew I would have to crack my PC’s case to upgrade my video card.

I googled to see what people felt about dual displays and came up with compelling reasons to get a second monitor. I kept seeing glowing reports like “no single system upgrade has improved my personal productivity as much as adding that second screen,” and “this second display has changed the way I compute more profoundly than any single upgrade since, oh, maybe Microsoft Windows 95.”

I finally made the choice to go in for it. The others were right. If there’s one thing that has helped boost my productivity, it simply has to be this addition of a second computer monitor. Not only does it make doing many tasks more pleasant, but it also lets me do them more efficiently.

Satish Kamalapuram, an SAP consultant working in one of India’s leading IT companies says, “Using dual monitors increase productivity by atleast 40% and becomes a need over a period of time. I use it at work, as well as home.” I couldn’t agree more. At work, I open two Word documents, an Excel spreadsheet, three Web browser windows, and my email and all this on a slow day and I absolutely appreciate anything that helps me multitask better.

In the finance and trading industry, it is no longer a nice-to-have setup. It’s a must-have. Especially when you have long spreadsheets, you can view the entire spreadsheet across the two monitors. It helps people like Karthikeyan who have to deal with really long spreadsheets.

In the design industry too, it is become paramount to have this setup. Especially because designers can compare two designs at the same time instead of ‘Alt-Tab’ing. Also, since you can set up the monitor resolutions for each monitor separately, this is a boon for Web designers. They can now check how their websites look in different resolutions and accordingly make minor adjustments.

There are others who would like to separate work from fun and the dual setup helps them do just that. Prathul Prabhakar, a young IT professional says, “This way I can keep active work on one monitor and stuff like feeds, mail, Twitter, chat on the other. Work is more fun and easy this way!”

This week I present my experience, articles to help you do it yourself. You need a video card with dual output. If not, plug an extra video card into your motherboard’s open slot. Plug the extra monitor into the second output, and use the graphics card’s software to activate the second display.

If all this is too much for you, take the easy way of calling up your computer hardware person to help out. It’s recommended that you use two monitors of the same size. It’s a lot easier on your eyes. I use two 17” monitors and they are perfect. There are disadvantages. When you add a second monitor, you immediately halve the resource of the video card. In certain cases, the drop in performance can be visible. Now, imagine if you added a 3rd and a 4th monitor. The solution for this problem is to install a more powerful video card. Another word of caution though. Don’t go overboard with monitors. The higher number of monitors does not necessarily increase the productivity proportionately.

Now to the question of CRT or LCD. If you have old CRT monitors that you are going to throw away, you can use them. If you have some money to space, I suggest you use LCD flat monitors. They work best. With prices of flat monitors falling, its more reason for you to give it a shot and you’ll thank me for it later.