The business benefits of adding a second monitor

You can give your productivity a serious boost by connecting a second monitor. But will any old LCD do?

For my money, there's no better way to transform your computing experience than by adding a second monitor.

Nothing, but nothing, beats having Outlook open on one screen and your browser on another. Or your browser and Excel. Or Excel and Word. You get the idea.

This approach not only saves you the time and hassle of switching back and forth between windows, but also makes multiple windows visible simultaneously -- great for when you need to, say, drag and drop data from one to another.

Best of all, monitors are cheap. You can add a 22-inch LCD to your setup for under $150, or a 24-inch display for under $200.

Of course, it might be worth spending a bit extra to get some business-friendly features. Here are three to consider:

1. A pivoting display. Think about it: documents, Web pages, and even some photos are meant to be viewed in a portrait orientation -- and yet we shoehorn them into widescreen monitors.

If you spend a lot of your time creating or viewing content, opt for a monitor that can rotate 90 degrees. You'll be blown away by the long, extended view this affords Web pages, Word files, and the like. It's a game-changer.

You'll pay a bit extra for a monitor that can pivot, but it's worth it.

2. A USB hub. You can never have too many USB ports, right? More to the point, you can never have too many that are in easy reach. For desktop users in particular, who routinely have to bend down and/or reach around to access their ports, a USB-equipped monitor can be a godsend.

So look for a model that advertises a USB hub. Usually this means 2-4 powered ports accessible either on the side of the monitor or in the base. Again, you might pay a slight premium for the feature, but convenience is the return on your investment.

3. A touchscreen. Ever wish your computer worked more like your tablet? If you pair it with a touchscreen-capable monitor, it can.

Microsoft baked touch support right into Windows 7, and while it never really caught on, it's actually a pretty nice way to interact with the operating system. You can tap to close a window, launch a program, scroll through a document, and so on.

Of course, it'll prove even more valuable once Windows 8 arrives, as the new OS was all but designed with touching in mind.

If there's a downside to adding touch capabilities to your shopping list, it's price: the technology adds around $100 to the price of a 22- or 24-inch monitor. On the other hand, once you start tapping, pinching, and dragging, you'll wonder how you ever got along with just a mouse.

Okay, those are my picks. What features do you consider essential in a business-class monitor? While you're mulling that over, check out my guide to connecting a second monitor to your PC, and this video on how to set up multiple monitors.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Rick Broida

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?