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Do Big Screens Make Employees More Productive? 472

Posted by timothy
from the or-at-least-gets-them-to-mmorgs-faster dept.
prostoalex writes "If your company uses 17" or 19" monitors, 30" monitors will make the employees more productive, Apple-sponsored research says. MacWorld reports: "Pfeiffer's testing showed time savings of 13.63 seconds when moving files between folders using the larger screen — 15.7 seconds compared to 29.3 seconds on the 17-in. monitor — for a productivity gain of 46.45 percent. The testing showed a 65.09 percent productivity gain when dragging and dropping between images — a task that took 6.4 seconds on the larger monitor compared to 18.3 seconds using the smaller screen. And cutting and pasting cells from Excel spreadsheets resulted in a 51.31 percent productivity gain — a task that took 20.7 seconds on the larger monitor versus 42.6 seconds on the smaller screen."" Calling such task-specific speed jolts "productivity gains" seems optimistic unless some measure of overall producivity backs up that claim, but don't mention that on the purchase order request.
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Do Big Screens Make Employees More Productive?

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  • Answer is (Score:5, Funny)

    by MECC (8478) * on Thursday October 12, 2006 @08:55AM (#16406773)
    "Do Big Screens Make Employees More Productive?"

    yes.

    • Re:Answer is (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Aladrin (926209) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @09:07AM (#16406905)
      It isn't really so concrete, though, is it? I'm perfectly happy with my 19". Would a 30" really help? Maybe... If I had a 30", would a 50"? What about a 100"?

      Maybe 30" isn't the magic number, either. Maybe 30" is really TOO big and would cut my productivity because I have to constantly move my whole head to view the screen, instead of just my eyes.

      I have a 37" LCD HDTV as a monitor at home. (Mainly for games.) I find I have to sit all the way across the room (Like 8' away) in order to properly view the screen. I'd get the same benefit from a ~ 22" screen that is much closer, and there wouldn't be all that wasted room space.

      At work, I'm not even sure a 30" screen would fit on my desk... I seriously doubt it would make me more productive.

      Also, it's worth noting that the upgrade from 15" to 19" didn't do much for my productivity at work.
      • Re:Answer is (Score:5, Interesting)

        by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudsonNO@SPAMbarbara-hudson.com> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @09:16AM (#16407029) Journal

        Two 19" monitors will give you the same flexibility, at a much lower cost point - AND you can angle each viewing area separately. You can't do that with a single screen.

        BTW, twin 19" screens are my setup at both home and the office (the home box is set with xinerama off, the work box with it on).

        • by orangeyoda (958347) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @09:54AM (#16407553)
          Two moniters is much better than a bigger screen, I currently have four on my work machine, and two at home. My friend projects his home machine through a homecimema setup onto his livingroom wall, it's about 6ft x 4ft , any performance gain is lost on neck pain after trying to find My Computer somewhere near the air vent .
          • Re:Answer is (Score:5, Insightful)

            by CastrTroy (595695) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @10:04AM (#16407697) Homepage
            It only helps to have 2 monitors rather than 1 large monitor because the window managers handle 2 monitors much better than 1 large monitor. The maximize feature becomes useless if you're using a 30 inch monitor. Maybe we need new window managers to take advantage of the larger screens. I think the fact that they used Macintosh machines definitely changes the results, because the maximize button doesn't really maximize. WHich makes a lot of sense if you have a 23 inch apple cinema display, but doesn't make much sense if you use a 17 4:3 resolution monitor.
            • Re:Answer is (Score:4, Interesting)

              by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @12:14PM (#16409695) Journal
              My laptop has a 15" screen, and at work I plug it into a 23" display. Here, I've had the opportunity to work with a machine that has dual 30" displays. I am a lot more productive on the 23" screen; more so than I was when I used to run two 19" monitors at home.

              Using one large monitor is a lot better than using two smaller ones. You have a lot more flexibility than with two; you can split it into two uneven parts, or three different sections more easily. I often have code I'm writing, documentation I'm writing, and documentation I'm reading open, for example. Two things really help:

              1. Exposé. Switching windows quickly without it is a pain. It isn't needed as much on larger screens though.
              2. The zoom button working correctly on OS X. I don't ever want a window to take up the entire screen. If I did, I wouldn't bother with a multitasking GUI. I want it to grow to the optimal size to contain the contents.
              I am a bit surprised that this comes from Apple, because one area where OS X scales badly in terms of screen size is the menu bar. OPENSTEP managed much better here by having the right mouse button pop up the application menu under the mouse wherever you were, making invoking the menu an O(1) operation (rather than O(n) in terms of screen height on OS X).
          • Re:Answer is (Score:5, Insightful)

            by twistedsymphony (956982) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @10:47AM (#16408351) Homepage
            I think it really depends on the task you doing. For instance:

            Dual Monitors:
            • Programing/Coding
            • some forms of 2D Graphics
            • Stock trading
            • database development/management
            • some forms of word processing
            • General Multi Tasking
            Basically any scenario where you're doing a lot of side by side comparisons, moving data from one place to another or Channing something on one end and watching the results somewhere else. Multi monitors helps keep you from constantly switching between things.

            One Large Monitor
            • 3D Graphics
            • Gaming
            • Media (movies/slide shows etc.)
            • Some forms of word processing
            • some forms of 2D Graphics
            • CAD solidmodeling/drawing
            Basically any scenario where you need to do a lot of comparisons of the same object on both a large scale and a small scale, or just getting a large view of something that fills your vision. Any scenario where you're constantly zooming in and zooming out will benefit from a single large monitor by allowing you to leave it mostly zoomed in and using your eyes to move around or change focus to the whole picture instead of your mouse. Games and media benefit from this due to giving you a good immersive feel by filling your vision.

            There are other scenarios, and hybrid scenarios: like the gamer who keeps an IM client and stock ticker open or the person who likes to play a movie in the background while they do other work. But the type of display that works "best" changes depending on what you're using it for. Perhaps the best universal scenario would be a 30" main display with a 19" secondary.

            I would definitely agree that there's a point of being too big, but I don't think you could associate an actual size with it. 30" might be too big if you're only sitting 20" from it Similarly I've got a projector in my basement that's got a 114" image but I can comfortably use that from my couch 180" away. So size is relative to how far away you're set from the screen.
            • Re:Answer is (Score:5, Informative)

              by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @11:36AM (#16409091)
              I just wanted to chime in because I think you've got two of them reversed. Where I work, the 3D guys have two monitors and the 2D guys have 30" single monitors. The reason for this is that a 3D app requires having several other apps open. For example, I typically have Photoshop open on one monitor while I have Maya open in the other. I need to be able to get back and forth between them without a lot of minimizing/maximizing. The 2D guys have 30" monitors (Apple, btw.) that run at a very high resolution so they can see all of the pixels they possibly can while they're painting. (It's not uncommon for their paintings to be several thousand pixels wide.) In their case, they rarely have to have more than one app open. I'm more productive with the two smaller monitors and the other department's more productive with the ginormous screen.

              • Re:Answer is (Score:5, Insightful)

                by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @02:06PM (#16411293)
                I think this is going to change dramatically in the coming future. First off, all internal applications (Like unwrapping) in a 3d app can be put into an internal "Sub monitor" so those aren't a problem. With Z-Brush and Modo offering such high quality 3d paint tools I think we're going to see painting on the mesh far more common, resulting in more single monitor applications. The current situation of multiple applications being required is slowly disintegrating.

                One thing I can never understand is when people ridicule the idea of a larger monitor (I'm not suggesting parent was, just a standard reaction). I always get incredulous stares even with my 23" and exclamations at its size but I always respond: How productive at work would you be with a TV tray table for a desk? Some how people have been convinced that 17" of work space is all you need! Our "work space" is minuscule even with a 23" screen. I would say 23" is a minimum not a maximum.

                Unrelated. This is far less of a problem with windows which only requires one click to switch between applications. The one feature where I feel that Mac OSX seriously lags behind windows is the ease of switching back and forth between two applications. Perhaps apple's survey highlights just how inefficient OSX is for a multi window user. And since this is 90% of what my OS does (the other 9% opening applications in the first place) I think they should focus more on their interface than the trying to solve it with a larger screen.

                As a user of a large screen I do think Microsoft and Apple need to add a new feature to OSX and Windows. The half Maximize. There should be two extra buttons on the opposite top side: [Maximize Right][Maximize Left]. The two buttons would quickly resize the window to take up half the screen.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by hcdejong (561314)
          Two 19" monitors will give you the same flexibility

          Close, but not entirely. I've worked with multimonitor setups daily for several years now, I currently use a 21" plus a 14", and have come across several situations where one big monitor is better than two small ones.
          - writing documents. With a 21", I can view two entire pages (A4 in my case) side-by-side. On a 19" that's possible in principle, but the zoom factor's not comfortable for long periods. 21" is the minimum size for this to work. The palettes get
        • Re:Answer is (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mwvdlee (775178) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @10:09AM (#16407763) Homepage
          I think it all depends on what you do with it.

          When doing graphics, you'd probably work better on the largest single monitor you can find.

          When programming, two monitors will probably be quite convenient.

          Playing a movie on two separate screens wouldn't even compare to a single big screen.

          A game will just look enlarged on a larger display, whereas you'd probably get a wider view, and thus more information, on two separate monitors.

          And, according to Apple's research, a big screen is pretty good for basic OS/offics tasks.

          I'm sure there's more examples that go either way.
        • Re:Answer is (Score:4, Informative)

          by Nik13 (837926) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @10:17AM (#16407879) Homepage
          Actually, I did look at replacing my dual 21" setup for a Dell 30" UltraSharp widescreen LCD (2560x1600). Nice big screen with high resolution and all. Even the price was not too bad as they had it on sale (like 600$ off).

          But then I realized I also needed one of the very few DVI dual-link video cards which weren't very cheap back then (over 200$ for the cheapest)

          But this thing can't really be shared on a KVM switch easily (find a KVM with dual DVI ports, and preferably with spdif while you're at it - good luck!) Try sharing that between 4 PCs, even if you have the right video cards in each PC. Even such a KVM existed, 4 new special video cards + special KVM would likely cost more than the 30" display!

          Needless to say I'm still using my pair of 21's.

          Likely, Apple's display would be just as much of a PITA.
        • by King_TJ (85913) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @10:20AM (#16407927) Journal
          I'm actually in a situation at home where I can compare both side-by-side. I have a PC with XP on it running two 20" wide-screen LCD panels, and across the room, I have a new Mac Pro with a Dell 24" LCD display. (Ok, granted, not quite a 30" like they use in this study ... but should be close enough for the purpose.)

          Despite having 40" of total space on one system, vs. only 24" on the other, I *still* prefer the single 24" display, all things considered.

          The fact that you can angle each viewing area separately is more of a nuisance than a benefit, IMHO. I'm always finding one of the displays gets bumped so it's not sitting right up against the other one, and the gap between screens is distracting. I also find that with dual displays, I tend to want to angle them just slightly inward so they have a slight "wrapping around my viewing area" effect, rather than looking straight on at both of them. But again, that always seems to get bumped out of place if someone wants to play with the controls on one of the panels or whatever.

          With dual displays, I'd also be happier if games would start making use of them. As it is, I don't think I've ever gotten a piece of software other than MS Flight Simulator to take advantage of dual monitors. (I recall seeing somebody's instructions for making Quake 3 use dual monitors for a wide-aspect game spanning both of them - but it required software rendering, which made it horribly slow.)
        • by Sax Maniac (88550) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @12:09PM (#16409625) Homepage Journal
          It depends what you are doing. I |###|do a lot of music editing, and
          going to a 24" Dell has been a go|###|dsend. Maximizing a score means
          I can see more staves/measures at|###| once, and spend less time scrolling.
          If had 2 19" monitors, there woul|###|d be an unpleasant bar right down
          the middle of my score, and invar|###|iably that would bisect a measure
          which makes things a lot harder t|###|o read.
      • by Brickwall (985910)
        Also, it's worth noting that the upgrade from 15" to 19" didn't do much for my productivity at work.

        I had the opposite experience; moving from a 15" to 19" monitor increased my productivity so much that tasks that used to take me all morning and part of the afternoon to finish are now complete by 11:30 - which gives me tons more time to browse /. on slow days, or on days like yesterday, find out about a user problem, do some research, come up with a solution, implement it, tinker with it, and roll it ou

        • by EggyToast (858951)
          We went from 17" to 20" at work and it's fantastic to have some extra breathing room on the desktop. I've got duals at home and I love zipping around. I'm on OS X on both, but even with Expose it's lovely having the extra space.

          I can see why some would be skeptical, but it really depends on what you do. Do you write code and edit text one file at a time? Maybe two at a time? Or do you work with a few different apps at any given time and need to switch between them and move data around? The former w
      • by hcob$ (766699) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @10:12AM (#16407813)
        Maybe 30" is really TOO big
        Please turn in both your "Geek" and "Man"(if you actually have them) Credentials at the door!
    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      I hope my employer realizes this. I've always wanted to play minesweeper at 2048×1536 resolution.

      -Eric

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by dp_wiz (954921)
      Please write text with a larger font. It is very difficult to locate it on this 45" panel...
  • by Digitus1337 (671442) <{moc.liamtoh} {ta} {sutigid_kl}> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @08:56AM (#16406779) Homepage
    30" screens will also make Apple a lot more money. Funny how that works out.
  • by Kartoffel (30238) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @08:57AM (#16406793)
    I certainly feel more productive on dual screens vs. a single display.

    LCDs are also more productive than CRTs, because they free up more desk space for heaping junk, err... I meant, organizing my work.
    • by bahwi (43111)
      Agreed, I'm on dual 19" and it's the best thing in the world. I'm even considering getting a 3rd screen, size doesn't matter, just for meebo to live on.
    • by Yvan256 (722131)
      Dual screens is nice, but six screens [digitaltigers.com] is better.
    • by TopShelf (92521)
      This is so true - I have a laptop with docking station for work, and when I first came here, they had the monitor sitting on a stand right on top of the docking station, so I couldn't open up the laptop. I asked the techie to remove the stand, and voila! A double-size desktop is available using the monitor on the left and my open laptop on the right. People around here acted like it was voodoo or something... very strange.

      It's a huge plus to have a document open for reading (or copying) on one monitor,
    • That depends... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Overzeetop (214511) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @09:28AM (#16407199) Journal
      ...on the work your doing, and if it can be partitioned into multiple spaces efficiently. CAD work, it turned out for me, wasn't any more efficient on two screens, but was more efficient on a large widescreen. Since the tools take up a small portion of the screen, a second monitor was mostly unused (unless you count a calendar and email program constantly viewable as useful). A single, large monitor means more drawing data available / more detail shown on the screen, and reduces zooming and panning for operations. If I could drive a 30" from my laptop, I might buy one. I use a 24" WS 'cause it matches my current laptop resolution (seamless transition from work to road use), and it wasn't insanely expensive (30"ers were over $2.5k when I got the 24).
    • by Kelbear (870538)
      Definitely.

      At an old job I was trying to do excel work on a 15inch CRT monitor, zero desk space left after a case, monitor, and printer and keyboard. I can't even look at two files simultaneously in Excel, and it drove me nuts having to ctrl-tab back and forth constantly, or to resize each window into tiiiiiny little windows looking at little bits of data at a time. Above 1024 res the text became illegibly small.

      Would've been far more productive on at least a 19inch monitor with 1280 res. Here at home I've
  • It seems to me the problem could be just as well solved with a higher resolution on the current monitor. I don't really trust the research, since Apple, you know, makes behemoths of display technology.
    • by mmkkbb (816035)
      No, it can't be solved just as easily, because you either run into the native resolution of the display, or the fact the text you're looking at is too frickin' small
    • It seems to me the problem could be just as well solved with a higher resolution on the current monitor.

      Higher DPI on a given size monitor just makes the pixels smaller, meaning that each character's glyph contains more pixels. This makes the text sharper, but it doesn't increase the amount of useful work area unless the user has visual acuity significantly above the median.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ben there... (946946)
        He said "higher resolution". So characters would be smaller. Work area would be larger.

        You said "higher DPI". So characters would be larger. Work area would be mostly the same, just with big characters that take up some extra space.

        Higher resolution != higher DPI. ;-)
    • True, to a point. I've got pretty good eyesight, but at a comfortable viewing distance (15-20"), 90-100dpi seems about optimal. My laptop is 150dpi, and even at 12-14" viewing distance is tiresome. Switching from a 15.4" WUXGA screen to a 24" WUXGA screen made a noticable difference in my end-of-day productivity, with no change in pixels, as it was a function of how tired my eyes got.

      LCDs, of course, don't really have a variable display resultion - they have one optimal resolution, and anything else looks
  • by maxwell demon (590494) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @08:58AM (#16406813) Journal
    The time I need to type mv file /some/new/destination/ may depend on the size of the keyboard, but surely not on the size of the screen.
  • by Ibanez (37490) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @08:58AM (#16406817)
    ...what you all think regarding whether it's truly a jump in productivity or not.

    *copies link, sends to boss.*
  • by Vengeance (46019) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @08:58AM (#16406821)
    Sure, I'll agree that big screens can make one more productive. In fact I'd rather have two big monitors than one attached to my machine. More real estate is a good thing.

    But the given example, of dragging and dropping files, has got to be the stupidest thing I've read today, and I'm already at work.
  • by DrDitto (962751) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @08:59AM (#16406829)
    Apple should refer to Amdahl's Law [wikipedia.org] to see that a 50% speedup of something that only accounts for 1% of your overall time really ain't that big of a deal!
    • by TubeSteak (669689)
      It depends on the volume of actions.

      If the numbers justify it, a .5% increase in productivity can be a big deal across a company of 20,000 (or even 20) people.

      Or just do it for employees (secretaries, data entry, etc) who spend more than [insert minumum thresh hold %] of their time doing tasks like Excel or drag N' drop stuff.

      Include intangibles like employee morale and it might make sense to do it company-wide, even if it is only a breakeven proposition.

      Boss: Hey guys, check out your brand new 30" monitors
    • by The-Bus (138060) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @09:26AM (#16407181)
      50% and 1%? So you're saying there's a 51% speedup! Excellent! I'll forward your request right down to purchasing and you'll have two monitors on your desk on Monday. I hope to see 102% improvement!

      Signed,

      Rich
      (your manager)
    • That's just one operation. Within reason, any job that requires handling a lot of documents, images, video can easily benefit from a larger screen. If you save 10 minutes a day from not having to scroll or flip through windows, you can easily pay for that 30" screen in a year.
  • by evilduckie (854758) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @09:00AM (#16406847) Homepage
    One of my clients, involved in cartography (making maps), showed me his brand new 30" screen and said he had upgraded from 20" because on one single project, he was losing about 25% of his time scrolling around. So I'd have to say it not only made him more productive, but it also eventually paid for itself.
    • by clickclickdrone (964164) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @09:11AM (#16406977)
      >cartography (making maps),
      Please say that didn't really need explaining.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LoudMusic (199347)
      One of my clients, involved in cartography (making maps), showed me his brand new 30" screen and said he had upgraded from 20" because on one single project, he was losing about 25% of his time scrolling around. So I'd have to say it not only made him more productive, but it also eventually paid for itself.

      BINGO!

      I'm a sys admin for an ad agency. My 15(+/-) artists beg for dual displays or bigger monitors just about every month for this very reason. "If I had a bigger monitor I could get more work done." I h
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by zippthorne (748122)
        It doesn't need to make them twice as productive. It only needs to make them $1000 more productive. So if it's a sweatshop and you pay them less than minimum wage, say.. $10k they only need to improve 10% to make up the cost of the monitor. If you're paying them decent wages already, the breakeven improvement is even lower.

        A computer, even a yearly computer, is really a very small fraction of a typical professional salary.
  • This is the same as having two monitors. My productivity drops drastically when using one monitor. I normally have code on one screen and flip between reference material and viewing the program on the other screen. I don't have to memorize anything because it is always visible. So, I've trained myself out of remembering phrases or numbers for that few seconds it takes to flip screens and type. Instead, I have to copy/paste when using one screen - which takes more time than glancing at one screen and ty
    • by Kartoffel (30238)
      I have a production desktop for my work, a communication desktop with email/IM, and a fun desktop with my music player and such. I can jump between them without moving a lot of windows around. Will that concept be adopted by more than the Gnome/KDE models?

      It's a great concept, but it didn't start with Gnome and KDE. Amiga had an oversize scrollable workspace in 1985. swm implemented multiple virtual desktops in 1989.
  • by tds67 (670584) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @09:02AM (#16406867)
    I spit on this male-sponsored study. Size doesn't matter...it's what you do with it that counts.
  • Apple-sponsored research says

    Exactly. If I were Apple I would want to sell more large screens too!
  • Quite a bit more... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RabidMonkey (30447) <canadaboy@gmail.c3.1415926om minus pi> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @09:04AM (#16406883) Homepage
    I ran one monitor at work for a long time (17" - the head IT guy keeps rejecting my request for a 19"). They won't let me put a second video card in my computer, so I threw up a linux box and use X2VNC between them and now I have twice the usable space and I am much more productive, especially when coding or doing trouble tickets. I spend way less time alt-tabbing around looking for my terminal sessions - they're all on one monitor, as well as my browser, etc, leaving my 'work' tools on the other so I can move between easily.

    The downsides I see are a) cost and b) people getting a 30" monitor, complaining they can't see anything, and running 800x600. I think that would break my heart and mind a little, but it wouldn't suprise me. People around here still run 800x600 on their 17" monitors, and complain that 1280x1024 is too small.

    But, now that I think about it, having a 30" monitor wouldn't necessarily help - when you maximize a window, it fills the whole screen, which still puts you back to alt-tabbing. Maybe a better window manager/gui that you could break the screen in to regions, so that when you maximize a window, it would only fill the top 40% or something. Or the ability to pin windows to a location, os you don't have to maximize them.

    I think my point is that more screen real-estate, be it one huge monitor, or 2 (or 3 as I sometimes setup) is very much more useful.

    God, I babble a lot.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Mr. McD (166893)
      when you maximize a window, it fills the whole screen, which still puts you back to alt-tabbing

      You can correct this problem if you're running Mac OS X ;)
    • by Tom (822)
      People around here still run 800x600 on their 17" monitors, and complain that 1280x1024 is too small.

      Remember this was an Apple study - if you've never used a Mac for some time, you won't know it, but scaling is absolutely astonishing on the Mac compared to the PC. While on the PC (both Windos and Linux) you set a pixel resolution for the screen, and then a pixel resolution for your fonts so things work, roughly, somehow, a little bit... well, let's be honest: They don't hurt too much.
      On the Mac you set a r
    • by zerocool^ (112121)

      People around here still run 800x600 on their 17" monitors, and complain that 1280x1024 is too small.

      When I was a ground-pounder, doing on site tech support and installations, etc., I would run into this all the time, especially when people were upgrading from, say, a 17" CRT to a 17" LCD. I would just try to explain to people that the monitor is designed to run at the higher resolution, and if you run it smaller, it's actually harder to read, because it makes its self blurry while it blows up the picture.
    • by Xzzy (111297)
      Maybe a better window manager/gui that you could break the screen in to regions, so that when you maximize a window, it would only fill the top 40% or something.

      It's already been solved (well, for my purposes), in a lot of less mainstream wm's. larswm, dwm, and ratpoison are all forced layout managers that explore different ideas on the topic. The problem with them is that none work terribly well with Xinerama and 2+ monitors, but then, I don't know that I've ever seen a window manager that tried to work wi
    • by techmuse (160085)
      Why would you need to maximize a window on a 30" screen? Make the window as large as it needs to be, but not larger.
    • by JesterXXV (680142) <`jtradke' `at' `gmail.com'> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @11:15AM (#16408787)
      so I threw up a linux box

      You had to swallow it to smuggle it in, didn't you?

  • by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @09:06AM (#16406901) Homepage
    would make sneakily watching porn a lot more worthwhile.
  • by dbIII (701233) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @09:07AM (#16406907)
    moving files between folders ... 15.7 seconds compared to 29.3 seconds on the 17-in. monitor

    A GUI is not a suitable environment for everything guys - I've seen so many people stuff about clicking everywhere and sorting by extension when they could just use a very simple command to move things in up to one tenth of the time. Computers are there to do the heavy lifting for us if we just tell them the rules. There are a lot of good uses for big screens and multiple screens - but a glass typewriter version of a filing cabinet is given as the example?

  • More screen real-estate will improve certain types of workers - I have dual 17" flat panels at work, and that helps a great deal in coding - I can have a header up in a window on one screen, and the code using that header on another, or a document of a protocol up on one and the state machine for that protocol up on another, and so on.

    While I could just as easily do the same sort of thing with a single 30" screen, for the cost, having 2 cheap 17" panels makes a LOT more sense.

    So while I do question the exac
  • Because I try to limit terminal widths for vim to a reasonable amount, just having the widescreen aspect helps a ton. It allows me to have multiple sessions open side-by-side, with the windows stretched to fill the entire height. 30" would seem I could tile them veritically as well as horizontally.
  • In Windows the behavior of a large desktop is easier for most users on 2 smaller monitors. When we moved into our new building all of the IT department got two monitors, something that has been a huge boon to us developers. Well, just recently the network guys got cleared to put dual monitors on the accounting department's machines, and select employees through out the corporate office. People who are running multiple systems side by side. For instance, we have collectors that have a leasing system open, a
  • by ellem (147712) *
    I use two monitors.

    The 12" on my tablet and a 17" Dell LCD.

    I put mail and an MMC on the 12" with browsers and text editors on the 17".

    I'm not sure it makes me more productive but at least I know where things are.
  • by shoolz (752000) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @09:10AM (#16406959) Homepage
    Anybody that takes 29.3 to do a file-copy operation needs treatment for their Parkinson's disease, NOT a bigger monitor.
  • I dare any of you to go out, armed with this article, and expense a pair of massive huge-screen monitors.

    ...If it works, send me the extra.
  • You can take any small measurement, perform an analysis to make it faster, and then claim a HUGE Savings for the action.

    Yes, two screens make me more productive. Three screens make me even more productive- I can have corporate email, CNN, Javadocs, compiler, and editor screens open all at the same time. I save quite a bit of time. At the end of the day... how are you going to measure that exactly?

    Improvement processes (such as 5S) are being implemented as we speak. My job was to 5S the coffee room. Acc
  • 24 x 80 chars should be enough. Seriously. It's 2006 and I do a lot of work on xterms. OK, somtimes I resise them a bit but I develop as if I still had 24 x 80. Trust me, code and documents look better using k+r style. Even in Java.
  • Why are they talking about saving time dragging files around? I have an even faster method - its called the "Command Line"
  • by s31523 (926314) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @09:27AM (#16407189)
    First, I find 2 or even 3 17-19 inch screens are better than one big one.

    In terms of productivity there is a noticeable difference when I work in our lab with one monitor versus at my desk with 2. Especially when debugging code.

    For me, however, the savings is more in paper than anything. I used to print requirements, interface documents, reference material, etc. Now with 2 monitors I can maximize the document I need on 1 screen then do the design/code stuff on the other. I have substantially reduced my paper consumption as well as other office supplies like highliters, pens, etc.
  • by baggins2001 (697667) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @09:30AM (#16407225)
    I have spent four-five hours trying to get 2 screens hooked up to my linux system. So far no luck. So I figure I'll spend at least 2 more hours.
    I have the 2 screens but so far I haven't been any more productive.
    The screen with "Check Signal Cable" bouncing around, isn't really doing me any good right now.
  • Engineers who use dual-monitors are much less productive than those who use a single large monitor although I think it has more to do with the dual-monitor users having less experience. The senior-level developers almost universally prefer a single large monitor.

  • I don't know if I work *that* much faster now that I have two LCD screens, but it does feel a lot better, and makes work more fun and easier to handle.
    Which is what you want for your employees.

    And, if you're truly interested in finding good people instead of the-usual-joe-average, a multiple/large screen is one of the points you can use as bait ;)
  • A month or so ago there was a similar article, making a qualitative comparison between a bigger screen versus a faster processor. This reinforces the idea that, really, processors and memory and other nuts-and-bolts features of computers have pretty much been "good enough" for a while, and high-value improvements will come from elsewhere.

    Link [slate.com].
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @09:55AM (#16407581) Journal
    How many times have you seen a computer user who is constantly picking and clicking with their mouse to do the simplest of tasks? I've seen veteran users select text from where the cursor is to the end of the line with the mouse, then click Edit then Cut, then click the point in the document where they want to paste the text, then click Edit then Paste. Shift-End, Ctrl-X, Click at insertion, Ctrl-V would have saved even the fastest mouse-jockey 15-20 seconds on a very common action. There are hundreds of shortcuts - just learning a dozen will save several minutes in a typical day.

    Different tasks require different screen real estate, and sometimes bigger is better. But for office app productivity, the low hanging fruit is training.
  • by august sun (799030) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @10:18AM (#16407909)
    Is anyone else appreciating the rich irony of forwarding a story to your boss about how to marginally improve worker productivity which we all read on /. during business hours*? Because I'm loving it and I'm sure my boss would get a kick out of it as well. Right before he added /. to the verbotten list.

    *at least here in the US

  • SHUT UP! (Score:5, Funny)

    by wonkavader (605434) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @10:34AM (#16408155)
    SHUT UP! Everybody just SHUT UP! This is NOT the time to examine or question these results! This is the time to show your boss this scientific, scholarly article and get him to decide to give you a great honking big expensive Apple screen!

    Now Sshhh! Sshhh! Quiet.

    Print. Walk to office, walk through door, show boss article, exit through door, walk back to desk, sit down, go back to reading slashdot.
  • by hellfire (86129) <deviladv.gmail@com> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @10:39AM (#16408227) Homepage
    The article has things oversimplified. It's not a larger monitor that makes you more productive. It's more real estate that makes you more productive. With that 30 inch monitor came a higher resolution. A 30 inch monitor at 800x600 is not much more productive than a 15 incher.

    A larger monitor is easier on the eyes, and if it's easier on the eyes, you can make the resolution higher, thus gaining more real estate and being able to put more windows on your screen.

    Dual monitors always increase real estate so it's easy to see how they increase productivity. Getting a larger monitor doesn't always increase productivity unless it includes an increase in resolution.

    Once again this proves that it's not the size that matters, it's how you use it.
  • by E++99 (880734) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @12:01PM (#16409511) Homepage
    All single-monitor setups are for dweebs! I have a single 19" panel at work, and three 20" (1600x1200) Panels at home (soon to be my place of work): "trio20x" [digitaltigers.com] I have 5.7 million pixels ever before me, and yes, the productivity boost is worth it. The only disappointment is that my fish screen saver will only work on one monitor at a time. :-(

    Other interesting monstrocities from the same company:
    "trio-ultraHD" [digitaltigers.com]
    "powerscape-ultraHD" [digitaltigers.com]
    "arena24s" [digitaltigers.com]
  • by Bassman59 (519820) <andy@latke.nGAUSSet minus math_god> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @03:38PM (#16412619) Homepage

    I'm an EE, and I've found that the more screen real-estate, the better. You can have a ModelSim wave display open enough to see the signals of interest, while still having its "project" window and a bunch of emacs windows open at the same time, and I don't need to alt-tab between them.

    It's also useful if you're doing PCB layout: you can have the schematic window and the layout window open and visible at the same time.

    Of course, the reason for using two monitors was that one large monitor to cover that real estate was usually a lot more money than two smaller monitors, although you needed a dual-head graphics card. Now, pretty much every graphics card supports two displays.

    I still think a pair of Apple 20" Cinema Displays makes more sense than a single 23" job; more pixels for the same cost.

    One thing I really don't like is the takeover of the 16x9 screen aspect ratio. It doesn't serve text-based design entry very well at all, although you can have several different editor windows open next to each other.

  • by Delecron (1012817) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @04:20PM (#16413185)
    I spend about a hundred hours a month programming an access database for my company. It "HAS TO" have a slick looking front end, which will all know is super easy in Access... I got them to spring for a 20.1 in Monitor and it's great but now I'm beggin for a second so I can have the source code on one screen and the front end on the other. I guarenteed you will all the Alt+Tabbing I have to do, I'll save at least an hour a week. For the little these things cost in the long run, you would have to be pretty Draconian to actuall want to break it down into dollars and sense, it should just be common sense. Common sense also dictates Ronda from the office pool doesn need a 24 inch screen to view e-mail and print reports. A 23 inch will do just fine.....

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