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I want to build a new computer and purchase new monitor(s). At my old job I had two 20" 4:3 and I absolutely loved this setup.

However, the stores in my country only seem to have widescreen monitors nowadays, and the only 4:3 LCDs i have been able to find are 17".

My question is: Do widescreens suck for using them as dual monitors? Can anyone with this setup comment on their experience with having multiple widescreen monitors? Would it be better to get three 17" 4:3 LCDs instead of two widescreens? If i go with widescreens, should i go with the smallest ones i can find?

Purchasing a single big widescreen monitor is not an option for me, since being able to maximize an app on a specific area of the screen is a must have for me and im not willing to use "hacky" apps for this purpose that do a crappy job.

Thanks in advance for your advise.

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4 Answers 4

There's absolutely nothing wrong with using a pair of widescreen monitors in tandem together.

With widescreen monitors, you get a bit extra horizontal resolution, and since most humans have two horizontally-oriented eyes, this works out well. This is also why 4:3 monitors are a lot harder to find, too; people prefer a monitor that fills their field of view better. I would go for the largest monitors you can feasibly afford, as larger screen sizes equate to higher resolutions (more stuff fits on the screen).

In my experience, though, a three-display setup is rather more pleasant to use, as there's not a bezel smack-dab in the middle of your field of vision. There's some other obvious bonuses as far as gaming is concerned, too, but this probably isn't an issue for you.

Connecting more than two monitors, though, is a bit more difficult. You'll either need a gadget like this, a second video card, or one of ATI's new 5xxx series cards that support "Eyefinity". If you go with that last option, too, you'll either need a DisplayPort-capable monitor, or a DisplayPort-to-DVI converter box.

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I like the idea of having a triple head setup. What screen sizes would you recommend for this type of setup? You are mentioning the fact that human eyes work best with something that fills their field of view, but remember we are talking about having three widescreen monitors, so would having three 22" screens go "beyond" my field of view? What size would work out best in your opinion? Thanks for your help! –  nmuntz Apr 27 '10 at 14:40
    
Whether or not three 22" monitors will extend past your field of view depends on where you sit from your monitors, really. Three 22" monitors will be about 4-2/3 feet (55.875") long when placed end-to-end, so you could take a ruler or tape measurer and see if, when placed where your monitor usually sits, that'd be too long to see without turning your head. It's all a matter of personal taste, where you sit, and.. well, perhaps how good your vision is, if you have to sit very far back. 19" or 22", 4:3 or widescreen should work fine. –  Dylan B. Apr 27 '10 at 14:53

As ever with monitors, I'd advise getting the highest screen resolution you can afford (other factors such as contrast, response time, etc., should also be considered). I do not have any particular issues using widescreen monitors in a multi-monitor arrangement, except for the slight lack of vertical resolution. This problem can be resolved by rotating one or more monitors 90 degrees into portrait mode (but note that this could affect ClearType, if you use Windows).

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Thank you for the tip on cleartype not working in portrait mode, i did not know about that. The wikipedia article mentions it is a problem under Windows XP. Is this still the case with windows 7? –  nmuntz Apr 27 '10 at 14:46

I have a dual monitor setup with two 24" Dell LCD monitors. This is great for software development (I use Visual Studio 2008/2010), as this allows me to easily have 2 open documents open next to each other per screen.

I used to have three 21" setup, but I found this to be a bit overkill. It was nice to have a single screen I could look at directly, but I rarely had to use all that real estate at once.

Also, any docking apps that cling/stick to the left/right can also be fully utilized with such extra horizontal space.

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I've always looked to get the highest resolution I can get, but recently read an article pointing out there are biological limits to the human eye so the resolution may not be all you should consider.

The article also pointed out the use of newer TV's ... you can get a big TV for a lot less than LCD monitors

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