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The question that has plagued humans, and possibly every creature that has ever existed, has now been answered by University of Utah and NEC Display Solutions; Does size matter? And yes, it does. When comparing the productivity of people working with 24″ monitors with those using 18″ monitors, they found a substantial difference. The two conducted a study where the object was to study how the size of a monitor affects the productivity of the user. They tested regular 4:3 20″ monitors and 24-26″ widescreen monitors, and compared the results to another study using 18″ monitors.

”Ninety-six respondents were randomly assigned a display sequence which included a single 20-inch monitor configuration, a dual 20-inch monitor configuration, and either a 24-inch Wide or 26-inch Wide monitor configuration. /…/ Respondents were randomly assigned both text and spreadsheet editing tasks, which were completed on each display configuration. Time and editing performance measurements were analyzed for each respondent on each monitor configuration.”

The study with the 18″ monitors focused on the difference between single and dual monitor setups, and dates back to 2003. When comparing the productivity of those using 24″ monitors to those using 18″ monitors, they could see that upgrading to a 24″ monitor would reduce the work hours from 8 to 5.5 hours. The test focused on basic office work, such as word processing or working with spreadsheets.

The results can be transferred to laptops as well, but by connecting a larger monitor to your laptop you can circumvent this. The study also showed that dual monitors are more productive for people doing a lot of calculations, while widescreen monitors are better for word processing. The trend was observed among both beginners and advanced users.

The biggest advantages with larger monitors is, not surprisingly, a better overview. Instead of having to flip between windows hidden behind other windows, move them around, etc. you can have them side by side and save time by just turning your head instead of having to move windows around.

The complete study can be found over at NEC.

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