Optimizing your Multimon Configuration

Someone at Channel9, a developers’ forum I frequently visit, posted something I disagreed with regarding optimal Multimon Configurations. I had to provide a response, mirrored here for your reading pleasure.

Quote:

Have any of you tried recessing monitors? Basically, taking advantage of depth? It looks like everyone has their monitors right next to each other, so presumably, all the info is just as important.

Has anyone experimented with having, maybe, 2 monitors right next to each other, and 1 on each side but recessed a bit? I find that with my LCD – laptop setup, the laptop is a few inches behind the LCD so the setup really helps keep me focused on my current task and I just leave everything else (Notification area, main desktop, clock, etc.) on the laptop screen.

My Response:

Naw. If I push something farther away, I’d have to decrease its resolution and thus lose capacity for data visibility. Perhaps the key is better focusing techniques.

I find it best to segment the screens into clusters of productivity. For example, the far left screen is used for status info (Taskbar, taskman, Trillian, WinAmp main window, MSC’s, and BlogMon (A program I wrote to monitor my blog activity so I don’t have to watch the database)).

When coding, I use the center two screens for Visual Studio in a horizontal-split configuration, with the large MDI windows on the screen to the left and the small control windows on the screen to the right.

The monitor on the far right is 16:10, and is thus used largely for movies.

When browsing the Internet, I find multiple windows more informative than multiple tabs. Thus, I use IE6 and lay out windows as such: Primary data source on the second screen from the left, main link (i.e. an individual thread) on a second window to the right on that same screen; then the additional screens add commensurately with link recursion toward the right, up to eight levels deep. If I link nine or more layers deep, I end up having to layer windows atop each other – The elimination of which is the whole point in a multimon configuration. Dang, sometimes six just isn’t enough!

When working in CAD applications, I span the window across the middle two and right two screens. The bottom-center screen shows the top or front viewport (depending on what I’m designing), the next one to the right shows the other (front or top, respectively), the top screen shows the side view, and the far right (16:10) screen shows the 3D Perspective view. All in full-screen, I can still monitor my status info and a website/document or two on the second screen from the far left.

I generally focus my RDC connections on the 1280×1024 screens (middle, top, and second from the far right).

I suppose I could move the 16:10 a bit farther back, but that would interrupt the pixelary seamlessness that I’ve come to love and depend upon. Studies have shown that productivity is maximized when bezel size and distance are minimized (i.e. the optimal configuration would be one giant, flexible OLED screen spanning my entire workspace in a perfect circle with my seat at the exact point of the radii intersections).

Thusly, IMHO (And I think I’ve shown I know a thing or two about multimon setups), the optimal layout is for each screen to be equidistant from the viewer, pointed directly at the viewer – Thus the semicircular layout. Furthermore, my own opinion is that a 180-degree encapsulation is the best. Then again, I don’t mind turning my head sometimes as long as the main concentration of information (Specifically, actively productive information) is within the front-center 30-degree arc. This is why I keep movies and process monitoring info to the extreme sides.