Author Topic: Final Word on Optimality of multi vs single screen setups?  (Read 3550 times)

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Offline derpdederp

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Final Word on Optimality of multi vs single screen setups?
« on: Fri, 08 February 2019, 02:44:12 »
I'm sure there are many studies measuring and showing the efficiency of using multiple small screens vs single large screens vs single small screens. Obviously the more you have to turn your head, the less efficient. Setup efficiency also probably varies for multiple window vs single window application - for example, a game vs a stock trader's setup. There are certainly lots of efficiencies and inefficiencies to think of... Thoughts?

I would like to compile these various points to try to determine what is most optimal and how to have the best of all worlds, as it were.

Offline vvp

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Re: Final Word on Optimality of multi vs single screen setups?
« Reply #1 on: Fri, 08 February 2019, 04:05:14 »
It is simple. One big screen and a tilling window manager is better. The screen should be at least 4k and at least 40"; preferably more than 70" and a bit more far away.

If you are a SW developer and you debug GUI then it makes sense to have a separate monitor for the application being debugged. You what at least two monitors in such a case.

Offline jaredj

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Re: Final Word on Optimality of multi vs single screen setups?
« Reply #2 on: Fri, 08 February 2019, 19:34:04 »
The following is all about the experiences I've had with multiple monitors. I got up to eight once. Ah, those were the days.

Yes on the tiling window manager. Overlapping windows mean manual window management.

I found it helpful, when working on more than two tasks, to have a monitor per task. Well - a workspace per task, with workspaces movable between monitors. I had lengthy builds running, which I wanted to keep an eye on but not pay full attention to. Some of my monitors were too high to look at all the time, but they made good back burners. (When you get a vertical monitor stand, some of your monitors are too high to look at all the time.

Multiple monitors mean multiple video cards. More than two video cards in a computer can be difficult. It helps if you are not expecting 3D graphics from them all.

Multiple normal-sized monitors can be easier and cheaper to obtain than smaller numbers of larger monitors.

Offline kurplop

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Re: Final Word on Optimality of multi vs single screen setups?
« Reply #3 on: Sat, 09 February 2019, 06:47:55 »
I found it helpful, when working on more than two tasks, to have a monitor per task. Well - a workspace per task, with workspaces movable between monitors. I had lengthy builds running, which I wanted to keep an eye on but not pay full attention to. Some of my monitors were too high to look at all the time, but they made good back burners. (When you get a vertical monitor stand, some of your monitors are too high to look at all the time.

The nicest looking arrangement Ive ever had was a 30 Dell Ultrasharp flanked with two 20 inches in portrait mode. Unfortunately, there was too much neck twisting and what I really needed was more vertical real estate for my architectural drawings. After many iterations Im now using the 30 stacked over a 40, both with a 16/10 aspect. Yes, this puts the second screen high, but it keeps everything on the back burner visible and easy to drag down to the big screen when needed. This arrangement also leaves me more desk space.


Offline vvp

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Re: Final Word on Optimality of multi vs single screen setups?
« Reply #4 on: Sat, 09 February 2019, 10:19:37 »
I used 5 smaller monitors once. It was OK. One video card was driving them. One can get a video card with 6 outputs.
I use 3 monitors now. It is better. One 43" in the middle and two 24" "ears" in portrait mode.
But first of all get a tilling window manager. That is the most important thing.

Offline tp4tissue

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Re: Final Word on Optimality of multi vs single screen setups?
« Reply #5 on: Sat, 09 February 2019, 15:02:30 »
It'll always depend on what ur doing.

I'd say at least 2 ,  but they have the 49" ultrawides now, which is something like 2x 24 inches on a single panel.. quite cool looking.

Offline derpdederp

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Re: Final Word on Optimality of multi vs single screen setups?
« Reply #6 on: Sun, 17 February 2019, 14:15:02 »
So far I don't see any good pitches for productivity gains from separate physical monitors. Separate workspaces: for sure, to your heart's content. However, multiple monitors means moving one's head and eyes, which seems less efficient that pushing a key your finger is already on (to change workspaces on the monitor your head and eyes are already on). Of course there are edge cases, like passively watching some market data, or something. It seems like one monitor between 30 & 40 inches - of varying aspect ratios - is optimal. Any other ideas for optimizing human-computer bandwidth? There is monitors (visual input to the human), keyboard and mouse (data input to the computer), and then there are exotic peripherals based on things like EEG (which mostly are very low bandwidth, useless, or very application specific).

Offline tp4tissue

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Re: Final Word on Optimality of multi vs single screen setups?
« Reply #7 on: Sun, 17 February 2019, 14:36:03 »
So far I don't see any good pitches for productivity gains from separate physical monitors. Separate workspaces: for sure, to your heart's content. However, multiple monitors means moving one's head and eyes, which seems less efficient that pushing a key your finger is already on (to change workspaces on the monitor your head and eyes are already on). Of course there are edge cases, like passively watching some market data, or something. It seems like one monitor between 30 & 40 inches - of varying aspect ratios - is optimal. Any other ideas for optimizing human-computer bandwidth? There is monitors (visual input to the human), keyboard and mouse (data input to the computer), and then there are exotic peripherals based on things like EEG (which mostly are very low bandwidth, useless, or very application specific).

Elon musk is wurkn' on it.. 

they intend to connect to the motor cortex.. I find that kind of scary because heck you could come out a vegetable..

Buh.... heck eventually it'd be like Ghost in the Shell.. Awesome.. !!

Offline jaredj

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Re: Final Word on Optimality of multi vs single screen setups?
« Reply #8 on: Sun, 17 February 2019, 18:05:55 »
It seems to me the productivity win comes from your tasks getting a physical location. I had a coworker once who had a terminal window with like 20 tabs, and he was trying to switch from one subtask to another while showing me something. After a couple of misses, he had to actually flip through the tabs one at a time, deciding whether this one was the one he was looking for. Linear search! With more monitors, I was able to find the task with a glance, and then involve the computer only when the task needed to be moved to a comfortable place to look at it.

Offline Findecanor

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Re: Final Word on Optimality of multi vs single screen setups?
« Reply #9 on: Sun, 17 February 2019, 18:12:46 »
I think that different monitors could be preferred if you have different environments, but that the seam between monitors is a nuisance if there is only one. It depends greatly on your particular use case.
I have once had a desk with three computers, each with a different operating system, each with a separate monitor in one setting of the KVM switch.

One drawback with a large (virtual) display surface is that you have to move the mouse far distances.
I have once tried mousing assisted by eye-tracking on a single monitor. You would press a key combo and the mouse would jump to where you gazed. That felt a bit weird.
However, envision a multi-monitor setup, with a mouse pointer position on each monitor and that the eye-tracker would only switch between these distinct monitors automatically. First, that would feel less weird in that you are more in control, not using your body's input device directly, but rather that the system responds to where your mental focus is.
In this case I think having distinct physical monitors would actually feel more natural than making a single utltrawide monitor show multiple inputs side by side.
« Last Edit: Sun, 17 February 2019, 18:17:25 by Findecanor »
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Offline tp4tissue

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Re: Final Word on Optimality of multi vs single screen setups?
« Reply #10 on: Mon, 18 February 2019, 08:37:01 »
I think that different monitors could be preferred if you have different environments, but that the seam between monitors is a nuisance if there is only one. It depends greatly on your particular use case.
I have once had a desk with three computers, each with a different operating system, each with a separate monitor in one setting of the KVM switch.

One drawback with a large (virtual) display surface is that you have to move the mouse far distances.
I have once tried mousing assisted by eye-tracking on a single monitor. You would press a key combo and the mouse would jump to where you gazed. That felt a bit weird.
However, envision a multi-monitor setup, with a mouse pointer position on each monitor and that the eye-tracker would only switch between these distinct monitors automatically. First, that would feel less weird in that you are more in control, not using your body's input device directly, but rather that the system responds to where your mental focus is.
In this case I think having distinct physical monitors would actually feel more natural than making a single utltrawide monitor show multiple inputs side by side.


Alot of these control schemes can be implemented and if used frequent enough, even awkward input can feel natural.


However, the reason they're NOT in common rotation is because we can just get more monitors at $50 a pop in fleet pricing.

Offline Sintpinty

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Re: Final Word on Optimality of multi vs single screen setups?
« Reply #11 on: Mon, 25 February 2019, 18:02:48 »
This is my opinion on multi screen setups.
I have a hard time using them, because i'm used to not having as great of a setup as some of you members have. But when i do, it's awesome. It almost feels like i'm a hacker in the movies and i feel like i'm doing some advance stuff, when i'm really just playing minecraft. ;D

Offline schizrade

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Re: Final Word on Optimality of multi vs single screen setups?
« Reply #12 on: Mon, 04 March 2019, 16:30:40 »
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« Last Edit: Mon, 04 March 2019, 16:32:50 by schizrade »

Offline Sintpinty

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Re: Final Word on Optimality of multi vs single screen setups?
« Reply #13 on: Tue, 05 March 2019, 10:37:42 »
It is simple. One big screen and a tilling window manager is better. The screen should be at least 4k and at least 40"; preferably more than 70" and a bit more far away.

If you are a SW developer and you debug GUI then it makes sense to have a separate monitor for the application being debugged. You what at least two monitors in such a case.
Good point!  :thumb: