I’ve seen a few articles this week suggesting that a larger monitor may be a better upgrade than a faster computer. I recently bought a 24 inch flat panel monitor from Dell to use with my G4 Powerbook and I’ve been impressed with how much easier it makes things.
You don’t really realize how many windows you have open at a time until you have the extra space to display them. I’m finding that having the large monitor lets me spread things out and it is much easier to jump back and forth between a web browser and terminal window because I can just change where my eyes are looking instead of selecting a different window.
The larger monitor is especially useful when I’m on a slow internet connection because I can deal with multiple browser windows and read one while another loads. I’ve always done this using tabs and I still use the tabs feature, but now I have two or three windows open each with multiple tabs. It is especially useful when I’m trying to compare information found on more than one page.
Here is a list of things to look for if you are looking for a large monitor:
- Multiple inputs – You’ll probably want to use the monitor for more than one computer. Having multiple inputs of different types will let you switch between computers or use it to show a DVD with minimum hassle.
- Rotation – Some monitors allow you to rotate the screen 90 degrees in order to give you a full page view. I find this to be very useful when dealing with a bunch of code. One of the reasons I did not get an Apple Cinema display is because they don’t allow this.
- Adjustable Stand – Make sure you can easily adjust the monitor to the right angle and height.
- Picture in Picture – I do some work where I need to be able to test code on a set top box. Using the picture in picture I can keep the output of the set top box in one corner of my screen while keeping the rest of it free for applications. I’m not sure how useful this would be to othe people, but it cuts down on the number of screens I have to have on my desk and I’m not having to constantly switch back and forth on different input sources. You could also use this to watch television or a movie from an external tuner.
- Portable case – If you never move your monitor this isn’t a big deal. However if you are fairly mobile like me, you’ll start to depend on the extra screen space. Having a case for your monitor lets you take it along on a trip if you can’t do without it for a week or two.
I really wanted an Apple Cinema display, but when I started looking at the missing features and the price difference, I went with a Dell 2407FPW Ultrasharp. With sale pricing and free shipping, I paid just under $700. Considering 4 years ago I paid the same amount for a 21 inch CRT, it seemed like a pretty good deal.