Three years ago I blogged about the productivity benefits of dual monitors. Today, the New York Times published a long article extolling the virtues of bigger or dual monitors. 

Boss, I Need a Bigger Screen. For Work Efficiency, of Course by Farhood Manjoo (15 Dec 2008) reports that

“host of studies by specialists in human-computer interaction suggest that combining two displays, or using a single huge monitor, can significantly enhance your productivity. The theory is simply that the bigger your monitor, the more of your work you’ll be able to see and the more you’ll be moved to do.”

I’ve found this is true. In my office, I dock my notebook and make my external 19″ monitor an extension of the notebook screen. This “virtualization” of screens, a standard Windows XP features, is not the same as merely viewing your notebook screen on a larger monitor. You can literally move the cursor and applications across the 2 screens.

GCs paying for lawyers by the hour should insist timekeepers have sufficient screen real estate. That’s how big a difference I think it makes. When I travel, working from just the screen of my notebook PC really slows me down.

Mr. Manjoo either does not like to remove his hands from the keyboard or misses a useful Windows feature. He reports “as I’m writing this story in Word, I’m switching back to my text editor to search for pertinent data. When I find that information, I select it, copy it and switch back to Word to paste it.” Mouse users can simply drag highlighted text from one application into another, across open applications or across two screens.

One caution is in order. If you use a set up like I do, when you undock, all the applications revert to the notebook screen. When you re-dock, you have to move all apps manually back to the second screen. I have not found a utility to do this.