Today I want to step back from specific hardware and talk in general about monitors. There seems to be user confusion about various aspects of monitors.
One of the most important specs you hear about a monitor is the diagonal size of the screen. For those of us in the US, it is given in inches. In general, bigger is better. There are times when bigger is actually worse!
Users often say that they can “see more” on a bigger monitor and that isn’t correct. You will truly see more if your monitor supports a higher pixel count (often called resolution). Let’s look at an example. Using a fairly old resolution of 1024×768 will show you exactly what fits in that number of pixels. It doesn’t matter if you are looking at a 15 inch monitor or having it projected to a size of 15 feet.
So if you are moving to a larger dimension monitor, you’ll want to check to see if it also runs at a higher resolution. Then you can see more and you have a larger viewing area. Most new monitors (laptop or desktop) are LCD panels and it is extremely important you run them at their native resolution. If not, you will get a very distorted view. Please read Run Your LCD Monitor at Native Resolution! for more details on this.
I’ve written before about my love of high resolution 30 inch monitors. Most recently it was in Widen Your View With Dell UltraSharp U3011 30 Inch Monitor. Not only is it 30 inches, it also runs at a resolution of 2560×1600. That means you see a lot more, but it isn’t too small to see/read. One loyal reader said they were interested at the price (currently shown as around $1100). Sure it costs more than lesser monitors. Yet this is a great price for a monitor of that size and resolution. If there was one selling for half that price, I’d question the quality.
My 30 inch monitor has been on my desk for almost six years now and I’m on the third computer since I first got the monitor. So if you do invest in a really good monitor, it can easily outlast your computer. Given the increase in my productivity over that six year period, it has been worth every single penny I paid (and they didn’t sell for $1100 when I got it).
If you are in the market for a monitor, make sure you know what you are truly getting with each of the monitors on your short list. Whether it is a new monitor or an old one, make sure you are running it at the correct resolution.