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February 5, 2023

It’s Time for Accountants to Ditch Dual Monitors

Here’s what my first day at a client would typically look like (circa 2012):

1. Carefully navigate through a new parking structure to avoid bumping expensive cars.
2. Park.
3. Obtain a security badge with an unflattering photo from the front desk.
4. Return to car to collect my obnoxiously large (not technically portable) external monitor.
5. Saunter into a foreign office hugging my monitor like a small child.
6. Settle in.

Although comical… I needed my second monitor. It wasn’t optional. I am just lucky that it’s no longer too expensive to get a smaller, more portable monitor. Definitely less embarrassing. For example, the monitor I use now reminds me of a tablet and I can tuck into my bag with my laptop.

Obviously there have been many changes in tech since 2012 when I was hopping between client offices on a regular basis, monitor in tow. During that time I have noticed several screen size trends surfacing… even if the first one breaks my heart to say it out loud.

Dual monitors are fading

I find that people are: (1) opting to use super portable 2-in-1 laptop/tablets for work on the go and (2) utilizing a docking station to connect their laptops to a single super-sized monitor for in-office work. Apparently, using a single super-sized monitor (e.g., 34” ultrawide) is “a lot like that feeling you had the first time you put two monitors on your desk and marveled at how much room you had to work.” As the price drops for these single monitor setups, the ease of a seamless working space with fewer cables and ports required is likely to motivate people to ditch their dual monitors.

Also, similar to the Tiny House movement, a “less is more” argument suggests less screen space could encourage greater focus — eliminating distractions like email that typically occupy the second screen. And The New York Times' Farhad Manjoo observed awhile back:

With a single screen that couldn’t accommodate too many simultaneous stimuli, a screen just large enough for a single word processor or browser window, I found something increasingly elusive in our multiscreen world: focus.

I hate to admit it and I wish I could say it isn’t so… the dual monitor is becoming obsolete. Sniff, sniff.

Super-size monitor me

Even if there are a few nonconformists who are opting to go smaller, the mainstream trend is the bigger, the better. For most accountants, more screen space means more productivity — especially given the unwavering love accountants seem have for the screen-hogging Microsoft Excel (as evidenced by many of the comments on my post from last week).

As an aside, I have always wondered why more people don’t use an HDMI cable to plug their laptop into their TV effectively converting it into a oversized monitor. Most accountants probably already have a sufficiently large HDTV to try it. Go figure, maybe it’s a vanity thing to have a razzle-dazzle monitor? Maybe it’s because our mom told us not to sit too close to the TV.

Curved monitors are getting popular

If you can’t possibly give up multiple monitors, switching to two or more curved 27” monitors might do the trick since it offers a “more natural viewing angle than flat monitors placed next to each other” according to the director of HP commercial displays as quoted in PCWorld. (I admit she might be a little biased.) It’s a nice compromise.

While I haven’t completely switched away from dual screens just yet… I intend to deck out my office with a curved display in the near future. I’m thinking I’ll wait until Black Friday since they are still a little pricey. I can wait and will just have to savor my dual setup while I can. Although, I won’t miss my mouse getting awkwardly stuck in the gap.

Can you bear to let go of your dual monitor? What are your feelings about splurging on a fancy ultrawide curved display?

Image: iStock/yanyong

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