Posts Tagged ‘multiple monitors’
Although most techs here at DCA are no strangers to working on multiple monitors, we know this is something that still puzzles a lot of regular computer users. Now, because a multiple monitor setup has significant benefits, I decided to come up with a post that might enlighten those unfamiliar with the idea.
What is a multiple monitor setup?
If this is the first time you’ve heard the term, then it simply refers to a computer that is hooked up to 2 or more monitors. While it is certainly possible to use CRT screens, most of the setups we’ve seen nowadays use LCD or LED monitors. The reason is pretty obvious – LCD or LED computer screens consume way less desk space.
Here’s an example of a large 4 screen set up which might be used by a stock broker or video editor:
The LCD displays above are actually installed on a desk mount. The desk mount can help you save space (notice that the monitors no longer have their stands). However, using one is optional.
Most of us at DCA use just two monitors sitting side by side on their regular stands.
Here’s my setup:
But why would you need more than one computer screen?
Benefits of working with multiple monitors
A single computer monitor is always enough to get the job done. However, if you want to get the job done faster, a multiple monitor system can help you big time. Here’s how.
I’m sure you’ve tried working with 2 or more application windows at the same time. Perhaps one window contained a source of information, say a Web page in Firefox. Then another contained an MS Word document on which you were copying the Web page’s information to. Still another window may have held a Winamp playlist of your favorite tunes, and another your email client.
This is just a basic scenario. Perhaps you’ve tried opening even more windows or browser tabs simultaneously. If so, have you not wished you had a much larger screen so that you could just arrange 4 or 6 windows and not have to press ALT+TAB every now and then?
If you’re a writer
If you’re writing a technical article, chances are, you’d be getting information from many sources – a couple of PDFs, an application Help file, a podcast, a couple of YouTube videos, and a handful of Websites.
If you’re an accountant
Accounting work is rarely carried out by using just one spreadsheet. Multiple spreadsheets from multiple files coming from multiple folders would be more likely the usual practice.
If you’re a software developer
Let’s take a mobile app development scenario. You’ll need to simultaneously open at least the following: the API documentation, the emulator, the console, and the IDE (Integrated Development Environment). The IDE itself can open a debugger window, a UI window, a toolbox, and so on.
It’s not hard to imagine that you’d be able to finish all those activities much faster if some of the windows could somehow fit on one screen (again without having to Alt+tab).
Also, if you’re a regular user mixing business and pleasure
Ever wondered if you could open your “work” application, an online game, Facebook, Google News, and a video in one large screen at the same time?
Best of all, if you want to take entertainment to the next level
Ever imagined playing a fighter jet simulator game or a racing game in panoramic view? How about watching a video concert on an ultra large screen?
The solution to all these should be obvious by now – since screens could only get so large, and in which case would become extremely costly, it would be easier and more affordable to employ multiple monitors.
In 2010 AMD introduced their Eyefinity video cards which connect up to six high res displays simultaneously and independently. You can group multiple monitors into a large integrated display surface, enabling windowed and full screen 3D applications, images and vides to span across multiple monitors as one desktop workspace. The impact on gaming is impressive. However you do need to use Eyefinity supported games which are starting to become available.
Here is a tri screen Eyefinity setup.
What you need to set up a multiple monitor system
You may be surprised, but the desktop computer you’re using now may already have the capability to support multiple monitors. Peer at the back of your desktop computer and see if you have at least two of the ports shown below (marked DVI, S-Video, and VGA):
How to set up a basic dual monitor setup in Windows 7
Once your cabled up, there are actually two ways you can currently setup multiple monitors in Windows 7, either by using a keyboard shortcut or via the traditional system properties.
I really like the first method since it’s way easier than having to go into the Control Panel anything else.
Simply press the Windows key and P (Windows + P) to bring up a quick menu of options.
Now you’ll see the familiar 1 and 2 to distinguish which monitor is which. There are several options and under Multiple Displays, you can choose from the same options as when you pressed Win + P.
That’s it! You can also change the orientation of the displays and change the resolution of each display. It’s pretty straight-forward in Windows 7 and a lot easier. It’s not much different in Windows XP.
Go on and pull that old monitor out of the garage & give it a try. You’ll never look back.