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Report shows how a 30 inch screen offers measurable productivity and efficiency gains

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March 10, 2007

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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.

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About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
1 Comment

I\'ve wanted one of those 30\" displays ever since I learned of their existence but I have found a pretty good solution for sensible money. For the last 18 months I\'ve used a cheap 32\" full HD TV as my main monitor. Ok, it runs at 1920x1080 vs 2560 x 1600 but I can easily run 2 windows side by side or view 2 pages concurrently on a word processor or pdf reader. I paid $600 at the time but my panel is now well under $500 Australian. I also use 1 or 2 old LCDs on either side for extra real estate - I show TV, music player and widgets on them typically. One of the greatest benefits, and part of my purchase decision, was to be able to put the monitor at the back of my large desk and still have good viewability. I am sitting up nice and straight in my seat and holding my arm out there is still about 35cm from my finger tip to the screen - that\'s got to be better for my eyes. Plus I can spread books, documents and cups of coffee out everywhere!

To be fair, my panel is inferior to those 30\" ones in every other way aside from size. Refresh, resolution, evenness of lighting etc. Being a TV it doesn\'t automatically turn off when you power down the computer. And it is a crap TV too - you get what you pay for. But it is the best computing decision I have ever made, both for productivity and gaming. If money is tight, I\'d sacrifice some computing grunt in order to have one of these panels - its that good.

John Hogan
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