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Dual Monitors VS Ultra Wide

Posted on 4th December 2018

A little while ago, our Technical Director had a package turn up out of the blue; a Dell UltraWide Monitor. It was very large, could be mounted on a monitor arm and had all the plugs required to power USB-C devices and connect them to his MacBook. Little did we know, that this simple monitor, would spark a revolution in our office. The plan? To remove two dual screen monitors side-by-side with one larger monitor and lose no functionality to how we worked. Although apprehensive at first, after 3 months - we've reduced 18 monitors down to 9 with no real complaints or any desire to switch back.

 
Dual Monitor

Let's go through some of the Cons of switching.

Where's my pixels?

First off, you do have less screen, there's no two ways about it. Switching from two 16:9 monitors to a single 21:9 ratio means that I've lost a bit of width in my set up. Obviously each monitor will have different ratios and resolutions, but the most common ultra-wide ratio is 21:9. With two monitors previously, I had a desktop resolution of 3840x1080, now I have 3440x1440. I've gained some height, but lost 400 pixels in width.

However, what you lose in actual pixels, you make up for in desk space. Having two monitors takes up considerably more space. Not to mention cables, power, mounts etc.

Windows Management

Over 95% of the machines we support are running Windows. Love it or hate it, it's the business standard (especially when running a server). One thing Windows OS doesn't do too well is handling multiple windows on one screen. Although Windows Snap exists, it can be clunky to use and resizing can often be a pain. You can opt to use 3rd party software (there are plenty) to do this, but that's just an additional cost. Shortcuts are the way forward here, with Windows Key and Arrows allowing you to quickly snap.

The main issue we experienced is with Laptops. As soon as you undock or disconnect the display, all the windows are in random sizes and reconnecting rarely puts it back to how you had it. Makes it a nightmare when our engineers take their Laptops out and about several times a day.

 

Big and Heavy

The screen is large, there's no doubt about that. It has to be to make up for the loss of two seperate screens! There lies the issue of mounting it, most mounts have one or two arms that support a particular size or weight limit. Lucky for us, the mounts we use are strong and support the screens, but a lot of the desks with in-built mounts aren't particularly strong and may struggle.

 

Ultra Wide Monitor

Pros

Okay, so you've decided to switch to one ultra-wide monitor, what's so great?

Looking good!

There's no question, it looks great. There's a high pixel density and the display is clear and crisp. They're generally premium screens, so the build quality and design is unparalleled. It draws the eye on a desk and certainly gives a professional look to your work space.

If you care about display quality, this is definitely a plus. With a range of 4K monitors on offer also, it's great for those designer types who need a lot of screen with a lot of detail.

Health Benefits

As the screen is smaller than two screens, it means less turning. Reducing the chance of RSI is always a plus in our books. Spending 7+ hours in front of a screen, you want to be comfortable. All the settings for contrast, blue light etc are just for one screen, so you don't have to worry about getting it "just right" on both monitors.

The screens are slightly curved, with the curve more pronounced depending on the size of the monitor. Much better viewing than two flat screens.

Side by Side

One of the things that some see as a con, can also be a plus. Say you have two word documents to compare, you can snap these side by side and compare with ease without losing any space. The space can also be adjusted with a slider, to give more space to one window than the other, something that's not easily accomplished with two screens.

Verdict

We appreciate this set up isn't for everyone, but if you're willing to make the jump can be a real breath of fresh air. After learning some of the tricks to managing windows and snapping, you can create a great workspace without losing much screen at all.

Reducing your carbon footprint can never be a bad thing and reducing the power required by half - it's a no-brainer for any eco-conscious company out there.

Get in touch with us today to see if this set up could benefit your company.