Bigger Screens Make You More Productive

By Deane Barker on October 18, 2005

Meet the Life Hackers: Here is scientific proof that bigger computer screens make you more productive. The stats are buried in another article about general productivity (I think — I didn’t read all of it).

On the bigger screen, people completed the tasks at least 10 percent more quickly – and some as much as 44 percent more quickly. They were also more likely to remember the seven-digit number, which showed that the multitasking was clearly less taxing on their brains. Some of the volunteers were so enthralled with the huge screen that they begged to take it home.

In two decades of research, Czerwinski had never seen a single tweak to a computer system so significantly improve a user’s productivity.

Via Zawodny.

Incidentally, Joel Spolsky has believed in this for years: everyone at Fog Creek apparently gets two 20” flat screens. One of their employees — an evil, boastful bastard named Michael Pryor — even went so far as to taunt everyone about this in a comment on this post.

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  1. I started on 21″ CRT Trinitron monitors running at 1600×1200 in 1998. Did that through three jobs. When I started my latest job in 2003, everyone had 17″ monitors. I might have been able to survive if I could have run at 1280×1024 but the refresh rate was too low and drove me up the wall. So I had to run at 1024×768. Talk about a productivity killer!

    I spent a couple months trying to convince them to get bigger monitors for the developers. No dice. I tried everything I could think of including the following logic: The number of pixels available to work with at 1024×768 is 786,432. The number of pixels available to work with at 1600×1200 is 1,920,000. That means that when working at the lower resolution, I am working with 41% of the available pixels that I would at the higher resolution!

    I eventually bought my own 21″ monitor from Ebay and several other developers followed my lead.

  2. I started on 21” CRT Trinitron monitors running at 1600×1200 in 1998.

    I too had a 21″ monitor. A Trinitron. At 1600×1200. At a job I started in 1998.


  3. I’ve always felt that going to a dual screen setup was the biggest productivity boost I’ve ever experienced (17″ LCDs at the moment – but the prices on the bigger stuff are looking better all the time). It’s like having two computers but better…;)

    Every time I see a laptop user (on XP anyway) with their laptop plugged into an external monitor, with the laptop closed or slid out of the way I ask why they don’t use both screens…and the response is usually a deer in the headlights kind of look….

  4. I agree with all the comments about large screens making one more productive, but one should not design one’s web apps for larger screens. I am travelling through Europe for Honeywell right now. Although all the folks I am interfacing with at the various manufacturing plants are very linked, and computer saavy …. not a single person has a large monitor. In fact 90% plus of the monitors are 13 inch models. Remember when you read blogs like Gadgetopia, this community is not the norm!

  5. Just go with an LCD TV from dell…they are $3,000, just bought 1 for my daughter’s 8th birthday, she loves it

  6. The moment you buy your second computer, your first one becomes obsolete. If you bought a bigger screen with it as well, why not use the smaller one ‘on the side’? Specially when you’re a Mac user, since (all ?) their models per default support a second screen.

    That’s how I started using two screens somewhere in the last millennium and I have never gone back to one. Using two 20 inch NEC trinitrons now and considering switching to 30 inch flatscreens.

    I have to disagree with Rich Hoeg about the 13 inch standard in Europe, at least for the Netherlands and ‘neighbours’. I havn’t seen a 13 inch screen for years, not at friends, not at work, except for the old Apple LC III I keep in the attick for nostalgic reasons.

  7. I totally agree with this study. I own the usual 15″ inch screen laptop and i do a lot of work on it… but when i go to my friends house to work and i see his 22″ inch flat monitor it’s like dreaming.

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