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The pros and cons of using multiple monitors

March 2012

As personal computers become faster and more powerful, the number of programs you can run simultaneously has increased. What this means is that multitasking is no longer expected, it’s the norm.

Many of us have spent time toggling back and forth between open programs to get work done, but there are more efficient ways to work. Setting up multiple monitors is an easy—and surprisingly affordable—way to view different applications at the same time.

The pros and cons of using multiple monitors

 You’d be surprised by the amount of time you spend switching between applications. Multiple monitors can help make work more efficient, but this solution is not for everyone.

Pros

  • Increase productivity—viewing multiple applications on one screen can break visual continuity and decrease your productivity. For example, setting up two monitors allows you to keep your email open on one screen while working on a presentation or spreadsheet on the other screen, avoiding the need to toggle away from the presentation just to read a new email.
  • Not just for desktops—setting up an additional monitor to your notebook allows you to utilize a greater viewing area, while still having the flexibility to be able to pack up your notebook when you need to work elsewhere.
  • More ergonomic—limiting the number of clicks and scrolls you have to make between applications creates a more comfortable work environment.
  • Use less paper—if you can see more documents on your screen, you’ll be less likely to print and throw away paper.
  • Easy to add-on—extending your computer to a second screen is actually very easy. Most notebooks and desktops now come with a single graphics card that can support up to five simultaneous displays. [1] With HP EliteBook Mobile Workstations, the HP Advanced Docking station and ATI Eyefinity Technology from AMD [2], you can easily experience the benefits of multi-monitor system. HP Business Monitors, with the help of HP USB Graphics Adapter are built to accommodate multiple displays.

Cons

  • More distractions—having one computer screen is distracting enough, so there are potential downfalls to have more than one monitor. This can be controlled by adapting your work habits, but it’s something to be aware of.
  • Limited workspace—the most obvious issue with multiple monitors is the amount of space it takes up on your desk.
  • Consumes more power—many monitors are now energy efficient, but that won’t reduce the added cost of using more than one monitor at the same time.
  • Added cost—as mentioned above, many computers come with graphics cards that can support additional monitors, but not all. Adding graphics adapters and combining graphics processing units—or buying the monitor itself—can be both complicated and costly.

You’ve weighed the pros and cons—now what?

These days, most computers have video adapters, making adding a second monitor pretty straightforward. Depending on the operating system you use, it should detect your new monitor and walk you through the process of getting everything setup.

If limited workspace is a concern, there are a number of space-saving solutions to consider. HP monitor stands help to maximize workspace by neatly docking two or more monitors. These monitor stands even allow you to rotate your monitor into portrait or landscape positions. Our recommendations include the following:

You may also want to look into using a docking station to dock your HP notebook with an LCD monitor and other components—creating a complete HP Workspace Enhancement solution.

Having more than one monitor allows you to view documents like never before. For example, many monitors can be tilted to either a horizontal or vertical orientation—the latter being especially useful when viewing 8.5” x 11” documents on one screen.

Regardless of how you choose to position your monitors, or how many you choose to buy, there’s little doubt that you’ll appreciate the benefits of the change right away.

For more information
HP monitor stands
HP USB Graphics Adapter
HP EliteBook Mobile Workstations
Multitask with HP business monitors
Bestselling products for business monitors

[1] Requires AMD discrete graphics configuration. Total number of screens supported varies by model. HP EliteBook 8760w and 8560w support up to five screens. HP ProBook 6460b and 6560b and HP EliteBook, 8460p/w and 8560p support up to four screens.

[2] AMD Eyefinity technology can support multiple displays using a single enabled ATI FirePro™ professional graphics card; the number of supported displays varies by card model. Microsoft® Windows® 7, Windows Vista®, or Linux® is required in order to support more than 2 displays. Depending on the card model, native DisplayPort™ connectors and/or certified DisplayPort™ active or passive adapters to convert your monitor’s native input to your card’s DisplayPort™ or Mini-DisplayPort™ connector(s) may be required. See AMD Workstation Graphics for details.

AMD, the AMD Arrow symbol, AMD vision, ATI, the ATI logo are trademarks of Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.

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