WSJ has a post referencing a study showing that people with a 24 inch monitor were 44% faster than people with 18 inch monitors on a particular set of tasks. They said that performance started to go down again when given 26 inch monitors.
I find that most people don’t really know how to use a big monitor--especially with Windows. I’ve watch a lot of people open an application and maximize it regardless of how big their screen is. Then they jump back and forth between screens just like they would with a smaller monitor. You have to learn how to get the most productivity out of a bigger monitor–especially if you are in the habit of working with a smaller computer screen. This is especially true when you start getting to the large monitors. If you have a larger monitor, take a look at your actual usage. Are you really taking advantage of all that space?
Get articles, This is useful.
After reading you ideas on monitors and windows sizes, I found this utility that can ease the burden of setting windows sizes, it’s called sizer(and it’s free)
Mike King says
Mark, I think the usage of a large monitor depends on what you are doing. I’m a graphics artist so when I’m working on graphics a huge monitor has many advantages and yes, I definitely use all the real-estate available. Then as a blogger or reading online, a large monitor is nice for crisp and big text, but you really CAN’T use all the extra space. 80% of the blogs out there are fixed width anyway. Most people just clutter it up with sidebars, widgets and gadgets that prevents them from being productive when all they really want to do is write something or read something.
If what you’re doing needs your full attention, you should be full screen and kill all the other crap and distractions on your screen anyway!
Mark Shead says
@Mike – I think you are better off to minimize everything else and leave your web-browser at a reasonable size. First, if the web page isn’t a fixed width, then your text will stretch clear across the screen. Reading all the way across isn’t very efficient because it is too easy to lose your place. Also on these type of web pages, it is likely to mess up the way their are displayed. Photos will be placed funny because they are aligned to the right in a single line that stretches clear across the screen.
For web pages that are fixed size, it might seem like no big deal to simply maximize the window, but this causes a few other problems. First you toolbar is now separated from where you are reading. If you want to do anything you are going to have to go searching for it off to the sides. Second the moment you need to do something else–take notes, look up a referenced site in another window, etc. You have to size your window back down anyway–or worse yet, you just open another maximized window and switch back and forth between them like you would with a low resolution monitor. Third the habit of maximizing is likely to cause you to not use your screen space optimally because you’ll be use to maximizing things to fill the screen. This is the biggest reason I’m against maximizing. It might work fine for a particular case, but overall it isn’t worth it because it causes you to be setup to not take advantage of the space when you need it.
That is why I suggest keeping a clear desktop. If you want to focus on one thing, then minimize everything except for that window. It solves the issues listed above and most important it makes sure you are breaking away from habits that are formed (out of necessity) when using smaller monitors.
As far as widgets and gadgets on the side, I assume you are referring to Window’s gadgets that sit on the side on the desktop. I don’t think those are a good idea. If you want gadgets, they should exist on a different plane that can be brought in when necessary, but aren’t just taking up space.
I appreciate you sharing your point of view. I’m still pretty convinced that maximizing is a bad thing though. :)
Roger Farnsworth says
What’s interesting to me is that this points out yet again that even a small change in technology can require a necessary change in process in order to unlock its potential. Who would guess that something as seemingly trivial as a slight increase in monitor size could result in such an impact on user behavior?
I moved up to TWO monitors this past year, and my productivity has definitely gone up.
I wouldn’t trust myself to use all of the space on a LARGE monitor effectively, so two smaller monitors work best for me (20″)
I’m sure I’ll move that to three in the next few years. As a friend told me, once you move to multiple monitors, you’ll never go back.
Thanks, Jason M. Blumer