March 11, 2007 High-quality, high-resolution displays have always been among the most expensive peripherals one could add to a personal computer. The first 21-inch CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) displays capable of displaying millions of colors were two or three times as expensive as a 30-inch display such as Apple’s Cinema HD Display (or the other 30 inchers from Dell and HP), yet offered lower resolution than a modern 15-inch laptop computer. With the price of flat-panel displays dropping, high-resolution displays are now available for US$2000 - a viable price at the consumer level and a bargain for video production or professional image editing. As we have discussed many times before, the additional “screen real estate” is a very good way to boost overall productivity, even in very common tasks that have little or nothing to do with highly specialized professional applications.

Now there’s another study that concludes that the added comfort of using a large screen does translate into measurable productivity and efficiency gains. Productivity gains were present in not only professional design and publishing, digital imaging, and digital video, but also in general productivity and office applications such as word processors and spreadsheets. Cumulated productivity gains linked to a large, high-resolution display can lead to a return on investment (ROI) of several thousand dollars per year. Download the PDF report here. The ROI calculations are interesting indeed – if you charge US$100 an hour, based on average productivity gains, you’ll pay for your monitor with extra productivity inside four months. And give some consideration as to what’s possible.