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The_Neverending_Loop

4K monitor vs Multiple Displays

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Hey I was wondering if anyone here had experience with coding on a HIGH resolution display vs multiple monitor set ups?  pros and cons?  I'm really tempted to make the jump from the 2 monitor set up to one big 4k monitor, that verticle pixel display sounds very tempting for coding.

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I've used multiple monitors, but I haven't used a 4k monitor (but I do have a high DPI display).

 

About multiple monitors: I really like programming with multiple monitors, but lately I've been doing it less and just switch between workspaces/desktops (on OS X and Linux, at least). Multiple monitors requires me to use my mouse more, and I like to keep my hands on my keyboard as much as possible, which is why I'm using a single display more. Other than that, though, it's really nice to have my browser in one monitor with a billion tabs, and then on my other monitor my IDE.

 

About high resolution displays: High DPI displays can be a pain in the butt to program on (on Windows, at least). Windows sucks at anything but the default DPI settings, unfortunately. I haven't tried on Linux. OS X does well. If you get a high resolution display, make sure it's not too high of a DPI for your OS, or else it might frustrate more than help.

Edited by Cornstalks
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I don't think I could ever go back to using a single monitor for anything after working with a dual setup for so long. The productivity gains are amazing, no matter whether I program or edit documents or whatever. I have a 28 inch monitor in the office and it's so bad that I work from home all the time, where I have 2x 24 :)

 

Having said that, this 4K newfangled thing looks interesting, albeit expensive. Could be useful for photography work. But you can have the best of both worlds - just get two of them :D

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But you can have the best of both worlds - just get two of them

That was about to be my suggestion as well.

 

Just because there are more pixels in a 4K monitor does not mean you have more usable space.  You still need your fonts large enough to read easily.  The 4K monitors increase pixel density but do not increase your usable work area.

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I personally like multiple monitors. Lots of places to dock things and you can leave your work open on one screen and use the other as a floater screen. I know personally for me if I ever open something over my work I pretty much lose 30 minutes or work time.

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For the price of a 4K monitor you can easily get 2-3 30" 2560x1600 monitors. On 4K the text will look sharper, but it only gets you ~2.5x the pixels of a single 2560x1600 monitor at native resolution (aka "more desktop) -- But, you probably need the eyes of an eagle to use that resolution, if its 4K @ 31.5" (which I think is the common size), normalish eyesight probably suffices at sizes larger than 40" if such a monitor is available and you can deal with the head-swivel. If you have to scale DPI by 150% on the 4K so that you can actually read the text, then you only get about 1.6x the effective pixels of 2560x1600, text should look sharp, native UI elements should look sharp, professional creative apps probably deal well, but many other programs in the Windows (and Linux, probably) ecosystem don't do well with DPI scaling currently. MacOS apps tend to do better just because they don't have a dearth of apps the way windows does, and because Apple's been promoting DPI scaling for years.

 

If you have a particular need that would benefit from 4K (say, editing lots of large images, movie editing, composition, sound engineering) then it might be worth the cost of entry. Otherwise, my opinion is that you'd be better served by one or two 30" 2560x1600 (or 2560x1440, if you're so inclined and want to save a few hundred bucks) monitors. You can save the difference in cost, and build an entire new PC to drive it (or take yourself and one lucky individual on a modest vacation).

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I loved dual-portrait monitors setup!  Although, since I have been using Awesome WM, the need of having dual monitors have been greatly reduced.  AWM could still benefit from dual monitors, but they just become completely optional now.

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I thought as a programmer you were pretty much obligated to have at least one monitor vertical (portrait rather than landscape).

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Having used a wide range of setups in different offices over the years, I have to say that 4K displays are nice, but I would much rather use 2-3 lower res 16:10s. 

 

However, the 5 head 4K system I used a few weeks ago was really sweet... However it was geared towards video editing with a customized interface.

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That reminds me, what's the deal with monitor ratios these days? Is it me or are manufacturers trying to kill off 16:10 and 16:9 in favor of the 2.3something:1 (never exact) ratio Hollywood is using? E.g. not long ago a 2560×1080 monitor was announced (that's 2.37:1 ratio). The worst part is that they advertise those monitors as showing more, when what they actually do is trim vertical resolution (so they show less actually).

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As far as I can tell, about the aspect ratios - the bigger the ratio, the smaller the actual display area. I mean, the manufacturers advertise and sell us diagonals, not screen areas. But, for example a 19''  4:3 ratio monitor has bigger area than a 19'' - 16:9 monitor. 

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Personally I've always found 16:10s to be the most useful for a range of things. At first I was annoyed when they became so much rarer than 16:9, but honestly limited selection doesn't bother me too much as long as I can get a model with decent colour reproduction that doesn't require me to sell a kidney. (Cause stealing other people's kidneys is a messy job, and I rather not give companies my own.)

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Like selenoidz said, I think its a problem with wrongly simplified measurements that got into use when all tv screens were 4:3 and therefore still comparable and manufacturers profiting from them to sell less area with the same x inch sticker as if it were actually better cause it looks more cinema like.

Its the same with cameras advertising 2*2=4x more pixels and implying it was 4x better when the visual quality is imo more related to the number and distance of pixels in one dimension and just 2x better.

 

Since I got a 16:9 monitor I often feel its kinda wrong and there's either area to the left/right I can only see when moving my eyes or head or some space missing at the top compared to the familiar old 4:3 years ago, but those dont get made anymore cause xx% less area and similar monitors for computers and hd tvs means less costs and many things were adapted to the new dimensions already.sad.png

If new screens get even more wider people will possibly just use the left half for reading and then hopefully use the right half to replace the second monitor.smile.png

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On the measurement thing: honestly I'm surprised they never tried measuring the area (width × height) for starters (even back in the day). I mean, the numbers would be larger, and thereby seem more impressive.


If monitors go extra-wide they should really bring in curved displays. I've seen a curved TV.

On a related topic, this is another thing most people forget when talking about multimonitor setups. Not only monitors aren't in sync (so no vsync for you), have different physical properties (they may even not have the same color depth) and even different pixel size (good luck getting something with the same size on both monitors), they may be located anywhere in 3D space, which means that for all we know we could have monitors making a loop or not put together side by side or something.

 

Really, there the issue is that our current concept of a single desktop on multiple monitors is broken, we should treat them like separate devices as they are. This is probably a legacy of early GUI shells that didn't have the concept of multiple workspaces, these days we could just assign a workspace per monitor and solve most of the issues =/

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