Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's flatscreen

After seeing a few colleagues working with large monitors, I’m starting to get screen envy. But I have two problems. First, as a big-screen neophyte, I have no sense of how much better it is to have a 30″ monitor (compared with 24″ or 20″, which are much cheaper). Second, I use a laptop with a docking station (an IBM T41p, to be precise), and I assume that I’ll need some new PCMCIA video card thingummy to make it go. Does anyone have any tips?

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13 Responses to Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's flatscreen

  1. Joshua Gans says:

    As someone who has a 30″ running side by side with a 22″, screen space is the way to go. However, I think actually a 24″ is possible the optimal choice as it has better resolution.

    I don’t think you could power anything other than a 20″ off a laptop (unless of course it is a Mac).

  2. Mark says:

    I dont see how you are going to rid yourself of screen envy by choosing the ‘optimal’ screen size.

    Even getting a 30″ monitor will only put you on par with your collegues.

    Clearly you need to get a 32″ monitor. That extra 2″ may not actually make a disernable difference – but it does allow you to say that it does (hey, 2″ is an extra 3 cells across in excel), and make everyone else envious of your screen.

  3. Ben says:

    Biiger screen = higher resolution (usually) which requires a gutsy video card or onboard motherboard video chip. (GPU). All depends on the specs of the IBM and whether the GPU is upgradeable if inadequate. My sister has just bought a 20 inch imac and it is a thing of great beauty! Love the screen real estate.

  4. Ben says:

    p.s. 24 inch dell gets good reviews.

    p.p.s. Great new photo. You haven’t aged a bit but that hair’s gone all blonde in the sun again !!!

  5. Bring Back EP at LP says:

    only available to those on merit based pay schemes Andrew!

  6. Christine says:

    Mark is right, beat them at their own game. Or you could try to go with a Mac or something, to express contempt for microsoft lackeys.

    The side by side thing might be another way to go. I’ve used that a bit in a data lab, and it is a really good way of doing a couple of things at once without sacrificing eyesight. No idea on technical stuff, but.

  7. andrew – you might want to take it easy. I find an old 17″ CRT better for my pc work . I have long sightedness, largely, but not only, due to ageing, and generally LCD or screens other than CRT are less crisp for reading and spreadsheeting. Angle of attack becomes important too. Based on, limited, experience so far I’ll be looking for an old 19 or 21 ” CRT monitor for my private office. No one sees it anyway so size isn’t important.

    OTOH if I was in an open plan laying shed type place I’d opt for a feckin huge flat screen – just to impress others. I’ve a feeling too that they might impress students coming to consult one if one was an academic.

    Screen space is good – nothing beats watching tv from tuner card on several channels while working.

  8. The video card in your notebook computer is not capable of using a 30 inch monitor effectively. The 30 inch monitors are very specialised devices; they have two separate digital inputs for the left and right hand sides of the screen (as far as the computer is concerned, they’re two separate monitors). You could *probably* make it work, but you would require:

    * One of these PCMCIA video adapters, which outputs a DVI (digital) signal.
    * A VGA to DVI converter to connect to your laptop’s external monitor output.
    * Considerable patience to set it all up, with the distinct possibility that it wouldn’t work.

    The adapter gear would probably cost you another 800 dollars on top of the monitor itself.

    To get a 24 inch monitor to work to its potential, you’d still need the PCMCIA video adapter; the graphics card in your notebook isn’t up to snuff for the job.

  9. derrida derider says:

    Robert – You’re right about the *really* big screens that want DVI, but are you sure of that last para? Assuming you’re not into 3D gaming (a whole new ball game), any modern graphics chip has more than enough grunt to drive a screen at any of the common resolutions (including widescreen ones). And according to this review the T41p has exceptionally strong graphics for a laptop.

    I’d be quite surprised if it wasn’t just a matter of plugging the big screen in to the dock and resetting the resolution (you can even get utilities to do the last automatically) – I don’t think you’d need any hardware at all.

  10. I stand corrected. According to this page:

    http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/ATI_Mobility_FireGL_T2

    The graphics chip in that laptop will do 1920×1200. That is indeed very chunky for a notebook.

  11. Andrew Leigh says:

    Robert, DD – thanks very much for taking the time to tell me what I’ve got running. As a technological ninny, I really appreciate it.

  12. John Quiggin says:

    More screen space is always better. Multiple monitors are more use than One Big Monitor.

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