Eric Mack wants a bigger display for mindmapping. I have some thoughts on this: I have been using displays of all sizes from 14″ to 30″ the last year. And there is one single rule that works: The bigger the better.
I’m sure people will switch to much bigger displays in the years to come. A 17″ display is just way too small to work effeciently on. Of course, it depends, if you just are going to write and do nothing with the text but write from a to z, 17″ is ok. But as soon as you need to start editing and making structural changes, you need a bigger display.
When editing in Final Cut Pro, I use both a 17″ Powerbook, and G5s with 22″ and “23″ displays. The 17″ Powerbook is much better than the 15″, but if you are working a lot with keyframing of effects and motions, it’s way too small. The 22″ is wide enough, but not tall enough. 23″ is better, but after working on a 30″ at a demo… (I want!)
Bigger = faster
With a bigger display you look at your work more the way you look at your desk. It took me some time to get used to it, but then something happens. You start you use tools faster and better, you can put things you need to have around open next to what you’re doing. You don’t have to scroll as much, and can use your eyes and your amazing brain to find information fast by scanning over text and visual information.
If you want some more background and research, first head over to the display pages at Apple.com, and mouse over the the 20″, 23″ and 30″ displays (the numbers) at the page. You get a very clear visual on how much bigger the 30″ is. What I especially liked was that it’s so much higher. The 23″ is wide enough for most things, but not tall enough. When I edit in Final Cut Pro, I need a tall monitor, because I need to see as many tracks as possible. This would be the same all software working with tracks and timelines: Flash, After Effects, DVD Studio Pro, Logic, ProTools etc.
At the same page, Apple has put up a pdf report on how much more productive you become with a 30″ display. They want to sell bigger displays, but I totally agree with the results.
Significantly improve productivity
37signals had an interesting article about bigger screens in October 2005.
One veteran researcher claimed he has “never seen a single tweak to a computer system so significantly improve a user’s productivity.” On the bigger screen, people completed the tasks at least 10 percent more quickly – and some as much as 44 percent more quickly.
Microsoft has an article on the same subject, also talking about how much better it is to have two displays instead of one:
Give someone a second monitor, let them use it for while, and then try to take it away. It just isn’t going to happen. They’ll never go back to a mono display. Researchers in the Visualization and Interaction for Business and Entertainment group (VIBE), found that increasing a computer user’s display space made it easier for them to complete their tasks.
Women think wider
The Microsoft article also says that woman need bigger displays to be able to work better, because of the way their brains work differently than men:
So we need to support females with big displays, with wider fields of views when they’re doing intense navigation tasks. They’ve been at a disadvantage in any 3D system, but just give them a wider field of vision and smooth graphics, and they’re good to go.”
Bigger TVs -> bigger computer displays
People now are buying 42″ and 52″ LCD and plasma TVs for their living room. And most of these TVs can be used with your computer too. So what does happen when you go back to the 17″ in the office after using your Media Center with a 42″ all weekend? You feel like someone put on blinds. Not a good feeling.
If I were to buy a new display for my computer, I would buy nothing less than 23″. And not a portable with less than 17″ (unless you need to hide it away in a tiny bag, or just need it to dump your pictures when traveling).
Update 1: Eric Mack
Eric Mack points back to this post. Thanks, Eric!
Update 2: Robert Scoble
Robert Scoble has a long post about how to improve Microsoft. One of his points is to buy every employee of Microsoft a new fast computer and dual monitors:
I’ve seen the productivity benefits that dual monitors can bring. Every employee who has them says having two monitors is transformational. Especially coders who can have one screen for typing code and another for designing UIs. Or, even if they are just an algorithm kind of person, the second one keeps their email showing so they don’t need to switch over when a new email shows up.
Heck, I’d go further. If we want to reach the Second Life generation we need three screens. One to run Second Life (and other kinds of social apps), one to run Visual Studio, and one to run Outlook. Or something like this. Go and watch the researchers at Microsoft Research who are working on multiple screen interfaces. They told me that industry researchers are seeing somewhere between a five to 15% productivity gain when someone goes from one monitor to two.
This make sense to me. Even if I totally understand Merlin Mann in his articles about attention, mindfullnes and always on, I often need to pay attention to several things at once. And having a third display just for IM and social apps is a good idea!blog comments powered by Disqus