Earlier this year I decided it was time to upgrade my primary computer setup. The idea centered around the installation of twin 20-inch LCD monitors (replacing the old twin 19-inch CRT monitors, which each took up about as much space as my late grandmother’s console television, only she had just one) and an operating system upgrade. Fortunately there is not a huge amount to report since everything went uncharacteristically (for a technology improvement project!) well.
I’ve been a fan of the twin monitor system since my husband, a recovering Unix sysadmin, showed it to me about four years ago. As long as your motherboard has slots for two video cards, you just snap two cards in there and then set up two monitors, and let me assure you that once you’ve experienced twin monitors, you won’t go back. Another option is to purchase a video card that has two video outputs, which is what we selected this time. Think of it; you can have your source document on one screen and your target document in the other, or your TeNT (translation environment tool) on one screen and your electronic dictionary in the other, or whatever configuration you would like; the point is no more Alt-Tab’ing back and forth between two documents, or scrunching each document so that it takes up only half the screen as you struggle to read the text in each pane.
I purchased two 20-inch Acer widescreen LCD monitors for $189 each from Newegg and I’m quite happy with them. Yes, when you put them next to each other, you have over three feet of continuous screen real estate… We also upgraded my operating system to Ubuntu Linux 7.10, Gutsy Gibbon, which is working really well too.
So, in the name of increased productivity, decreased eyestrain and general home office thrills, I highly recommend twin monitors, and LCDs have come down in price to the point that I think they’re a good investment for most freelancers.