Ben Brooks’ blog entry Meticulous, where he emphatically states that dual displays are “lame” for their inefficiencies had me shaking my head as I was reading it. The thesis of his article is that a single, smaller display provides more focus to the user, which in turn improves overall productivity. His blanket statement that dual displays are “pretty lame” fails to take into account those of us who actually use their machines to create visual content.
While his arguments may hold water for a writer or developer, as an artist, I can confidently say that my productivity has benefited a great deal from using a dual display set-up.
Most of my work involves working with multiple applications at a time; applications that have tool palettes scattered around my screen. A typical scenario for me involves working with references when digitally illustrating. A dual display setup lets me use the main (larger) LCD for palette blossoming applications like Photoshop, Sketchbook Pro, or Manga Studio Pro while the secondary (smaller) LCD is used for displaying reference photos or a creative brief. A dual display eliminates the need for me to shuffle back and forth between apps, thereby improving my productivity.
Having a larger screen real-estate to work with lets me see and work with a larger canvas. If I were to do my work on a small display (13″), I’d have to constantly zoom-in and out and moving around the canvas. While one can argue I’d be more “focused”, I would counter that I would be wasting a lot of time trying to “see” my canvas. Is that productivity? I think not.
In short, for the work that I do, a dual display setup is essential. I’ve been using such a configuration for over 10 years now and can’t live without it. How about you? Do you use dual displays? Have you reverted from dual displays to single displays? Share your thoughts in the comments below!