Dual Screen Debate

It seems that everywhere I turn at the moment I am either being asked about the merits of a dual screen set up, or having 30″ display rammed down my throat – figuratively not literally as even my mouth isn’t that big!

Over in the 30″ corner we have the young heavyweight blogging champs, Glenn Wolsey and Paul Stamatiou, which on it’s own provides a compelling argument for the single screen.

Over in the dual screen corner we have such distinguished (not), young (not), overweight (definitely) Mac addicts as Mac and Myself. The fact is that the combined age of Glenn and Paul doesn’t add up to either of Mac or my ages, so maybe it is an age/eyesite ‘thing’? Maybe it is a mortgage, wife, kids, job, “thing”, or maybe we just aren’t smart enough? Anyway I digress – another sign of age!

Sitting slap bang in ‘splinter city’ on the fence is Tim Verpoorten, as anybody that heard his show this week will know. Hopefully this article will help you out Tim. Last time we spoke you said that 75% of the people in your ‘inner circle’ has suggested dual screen i.e. 2 x 20″ rather than a 24″ in your case, and the ‘ask the audience’ had thrown up a very helpful 50/50 split.

If you have read this blog for any length of time you will know that a) I went through all kind of interesting attempts to get a mirrored screen set up on the Mac mini to no avail, and b) I am currently scheming/plotting/saving to get a Mac Pro and a second 23″ ACD.

In all honesty I hadn’t really given the relative merits of a dual screen set up much thought – it just looked cool, was a great excuse to get 2 sexy ACD’s on my desk and I simply wanted one. I knew that it wouldn’t be an option with the Mac mini but I always knew the Mac mini was a stepping stone to bigger things – I just hadn’t figured how much of a quick step it would be!

Having recently added a 32′ Samsung to Sandra’s iMac and the Sony 17″ to the Mac Book I can say hand on heart that I never ever want to be without dual screen again. Is that a strong enough argument for you?

I have two very distinct uses, and therefore, reasons for finding the dual screen option so compelling in terms of productivity and efficiency:

– on a purely ‘day to day’ basis I like to have my communications stuff on the ‘2nd’ screen, which I set up physically to the right of my main screen as I look at it i.e. I drag things left to right to move them onto the ‘2nd’ screen. This includes such applications as Mail, Adium, Skype, Twitter, Pownce, iChat and a second browser. That way I don’t get distracted by new information coming into the screen. In single screen mode I find it hard to resist seeing what the latest bit of communication is and somehow once I have been drawn in I can’t stop myself responding, reading, commenting etc. With the dual screen a quick glance over to satisfy my curiosity and then I can carry on with what I was doing,

– on a more serious note I use the dual screen to allow me to concentrate solely on the main task at hand on the main screen and use the second screen in a support function. For example; when I record with Tim I have Skype and my show notes open on the main screen so I know what I am talking about (in theory) and we can IM via Skype as necessary during the recording. On the ‘2nd’ screen I will have a couple of browsers open with the reviews or articles I am going to discuss open so that I always have the current and the next topic open in front of me. Or, when I am writing a review I like to have the application open on the main screen and the browser open with the developers site open on the other, usually a couple of browsers so that I can see a number of their pages at the same time. I will have MarsEdit open on the main screen to draft the review and probably Pictureseque open for some quick picture modifications. Photoshop will be running over on the ‘2nd’ screen but will be dragged over to the main screen for specific tasks.

I find it so useful that I am seriously considering switching away from the Mac min and 23″ as my main screen an setting up the Mac Book and the 23″ as the main system.

So, that is the case for the Dual Screen! Hand on heart I can’t really come up with one for a single screen regardless of the size. A 30″ would have the depth, but with very few exceptions that is never an issue for me. The reality is that I am pretty sure that with a single screen I would just use it the same way as I do my single screen – just with bigger windows open! I will be interested to see if the 30″ boys stick with the single screen or end up with 2 x 30″ in due course?

So a number of questions for you:

1. Single large screen or dual screen?
2. Dual screen set up with ‘2nd’ screen on the left, right or above?
3. Typical distribution of windows across the dual screens?

Personally I have a 23″ Screen on the Mac mini and I don’t think it is big enough for a single screen option, so I think that a single screen in this day and age needs to be 30″. Regards dual screen 2 x 30″ would be amazing, but in all reality too much for 90% os us mere mortals (I can see our two young heavyweight bloggers going that route in the future), but I don’t reckon there is that much between 2 x 20″ and 2 x 24″ for most of us either, but I would without any hesitation go dual screen over single screen every time.

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8 thoughts on “Dual Screen Debate

  1. Michael Yurechko

    Chris, I myself would like dual displays as well. I have used dual displays at the local apple reseller and I can tell you, that was quite the experience.

    I like having the ability to define 2 separate workspaces, or have video playing on one screen and a chat going in the other. And not having to use expose every 5 minutes…

    The only thing I can add to my macbook right now is a 17″ CRT… As it’s the only other available screen in my house at the moment.

    I am hoping I can save up to purchase a mac pro soon, and for displays I will most likely go dell, and for dual 24″ displays..if not, 20″. But whichever I buy…I know I’m buying 2 🙂

  2. Chris Marshall Post author

    [quote comment=”7171″]

    The only thing I can add to my macbook right now is a 17″ CRT… As it’s the only other available screen in my house at the moment.[/quote]

    That is what I have my Mac Book set up to and it is so much better than single screen.

    [quote comment=”7171″]I am hoping I can save up to purchase a mac pro soon, and for displays I will most likely go dell, and for dual 24″ displays..if not, 20″. But whichever I buy…I know I’m buying 2 :)[/quote]

    So many people saving up at the moment – maybe we should set up a SaversClub to help monitor and support each other?

  3. Wayne LeFevre

    The biggest problem with me and dual screens is the real estate. In my present position, I just do not have the space for two large screens in front of me. I wouldn’t mind putting my 24″ Dell monitor, (excellent monitor, btw,) next to my 24″ iMac, though. Of course I’d have to convince Kristine that she could do with a smaller screen… 😉

  4. Mac Sokulski

    Duality is the only way to go. Like Chris said having 1 big screen would just mean bigger windows an more clutter. Having 2 screens really helps when editing photos in either Lightroom or Aperture. Both of these programs like to work in a full screen mode. Aperture has an added benefit of utilizing the second display for full screen preview, or other functions. Lightroom does not have this option, but it’s a perfect match when running in conjunction with Photoshop. One screen Lightroom, one Photoshop, with full access to both apps. Cannot beat that.
    As Chris said, it’s very efficient way of organizing work or play, with out using Apple-Tab keys or Expose. Having 2 24″ screens on my Mac Pro at home, I find it really annoying to work on a single screen on my Macbook Pro. I find myself spending a lot more time managing my windows that I like.

  5. Tim Verpoorten

    Well thanks to you and Mac, I now have a pair of 20 inch ACD on the way to my home. I am very excited about using dual screens and never have tried it, so it took a big push to get me off the fence. My Mac Pro arrived today, so now I play the waiting game for the Duals to get here.. it’s Xmas here in the beautiful Midwest. 🙂

  6. Chris Marshall Post author

    Am hapy to see you are no longer sitting on that fence – must be more comfortable for all concerned 🙂

    Look forward to hearing all about them at the weekend.

  7. Oli

    > Having recently added a 32′ Samsung to Sandra’s iMac

    A 32foot screen?! Holy mother of God!!

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