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Monitor Size and Aspect Ratio

Productivity Research
A Comparison of Single and Dual
Traditional Aspect Displays with a
Widescreen Display over Productivity
Background and Methodology
NEC recently commissioned the University of Utah to conduct research on productivity
gains of widescreen monitors versus dual or single traditional aspect ratio monitors.
This study compared 26-Inch MultiSync widescreen (MS LCD2690 at 1920x1200
resolution), 24-inch MultiSync widescreen (MS LCD2470WNX at 1920x1200 resolution)
and 20-inch MultiSync traditional format (MS LCD2070NX at 1600x1200 resolution)
Additional references were made to the findings from the 2003 multi-monitor
productivity study which compared dual versus single 18-inch MultiSync traditional
format monitors (MS LCD1855NX at 1280x1024 resolution).
Ninety-six respondents were randomly assigned a display sequence
which included a single 20-inch monitor configuration, a dual
20-inch monitor configuration, and either a 24-inch Wide
or 26-inch Wide monitor configuration.
Respondents were randomly assigned both text and
spreadsheet editing tasks, which were completed
on each display configuration. Time and editing
performance measurements were analyzed for each
respondent on each monitor configuration.
Productivity Summary

ÂIncreasing screen space increases

 However, these productivity gains
max out and begin to decline once
the screen becomes too large

ÂWhen multiple windows are used for typical work, the standard 17-inch
monitor and smaller are considerably less productive choices than larger
ÂLarge widescreen monitors can be equally or more productive than dual
screen monitors
ÂAnd both are more effective than smaller, single screen monitors
Productivity Summary (Cont’d)
 The 20-inch std format monitor returned an 18% increase in performance scores over
the single 18-inch monitor and performed slightly better than even dual 18-inch

 The research tested user performance among text and spreadsheet tasks to
determine productivity differences by the leading widescreen and dual screen uses
Productivity Summary (Cont’d)
 There is clearly a task/display interaction which follows a bell curve pattern.
Productivity is likely to increase as screen size increases until the until the maximum
threshold is reached. There is a point to which screen space becomes so large that
productivity gains will flatten and eventually decline
Preference Summary
 Preference is not a good predictor
of a users’ performance, but does
impact overall satisfaction levels
 End-users significantly preferred
larger screen real estate, either
through a dual configuration or
larger widescreen monitor, over
single standard aspect screens
 The 26-inch MultiSync widescreen,
24-inch MultiSync widescreen, and
the dual 20-inch MultiSync monitors
were significantly preferred over the
single 20-inch traditional format
Preference Summary (Cont’d)
 Both widescreen and dual were preferred to single traditional format
monitors because they are:

 Users that preferred widescreen over dual cited the side-by-side screens
could be closer and the lack of a bezel break aided preference for
Single Screen vs. Dual Screen vs. Widescreen
Performance Measures
Analysis of Performance Measures:
Text Editing Task
ÂWidescreen was consistently the best performing configuration on text
editing tasks
ÂAnd both the 24-inch widescreen and 20-inch dual screens were significantly
more productive than the 20-inch single monitor configuration in completing
these text tasks

Note: Text task confidence interval at +/- 4.7%

Analysis of Performance Measures:
Spreadsheet Editing Task
ÂAlthough dual monitors take more time to set up than either single or
widescreen monitors, dual monitors allowed for faster edits than did
widescreen which allowed for faster edits than did the 20-inch single
traditional monitor
ÂOverall in the spreadsheet task, the dual 20-inch monitors performed
the best with a slight lead over the 24-inch widescreen

Note: Spreadsheet task confidence interval at +/- 4.4%

Single Screen vs. Dual Screen vs. Widescreen:
Aptitude Groups
ÂRespondents were placed into one of three aptitude groups, novice,
intermediate or advanced based on skill level using the single traditional
monitor configuration
ÂNot surprisingly, aptitude had an effect on performance across display
 The novice aptitude group consistently had significantly higher performance
on the MultiSync widescreen compared to the single traditional monitor
 Intermediate and Advanced aptitude respondents performed equally well on
the MultiSync widescreen and dual screen configurations and better than the
single 20-inch monitor
ÂThe display configuration will have the most impact on all work when
the user is less experienced
ÂWidescreen and dual configurations reduce the productivity gap between
aptitude levels
 The 24-inch MultiSync widescreen is particularly beneficial for inexperienced users
Single Screen vs. Dual Screen vs. Widescreen
End User Preference
 Proper choices in display configuration can have a significant impact on
 With many office workers spending their entire day on the computer,
monitor size and configuration becomes an extremely important
component of the desktop set up

 Not only does screen space impact a users’ productivity, screen space
effects the amount of satisfaction obtained from the work

 With the costs of larger LCD displays falling, the smaller, (less than 19-inch)
monitor is no longer justified in terms of productivity returns and worker
 Based on performance and preference from this study, large widescreen
or multiple monitor configurations are recommended for use in any situation
where multiple documents of information are an ordinary part of the work
Recommendations (Cont’d)
 The increasing number of possible display configurations with their different productivity
curves encourages efforts to match the display configuration with the type of work to be
done and the skill level of the individual doing that work
 Another highly productive desktop configuration would include dual monitors with at
least one being a larger widescreen monitor
 As notebooks replace more desktop PCs in the workplace, a larger widescreen
monitor alongside the laptop easily allows for this desktop configuration and could
maximize productivity and preference
Productivity Curve
 By plotting productivity gains from the sizes tested in the research we can
approximate productivity gains for 19-inch traditional format and 22-inch
wide, as well as dual 19-inch monitors
Single Screen vs. Dual Screen vs. Widescreen:
Return On Investment
 Based on the productivity gains obtained when increasing screen space over
current leading monitor sizes, significant cost savings can be realized
# of Additional Days of Production Company Would Realize Per Year
x250 x500 x1000 x5000
Employees Employees Employees Employees
Single 24" Wide 20,270 40,541 81,081 405,405
Single 22" Wide 16,544 33,088 66,176 330,882
Dual 19" Std 14,050 28,101 56,202 281,008
Single 19" Std 5,161 10,321 20,642 103,211
Dual 17" Std 8,152 16,304 32,609 163,043
Single 17" Std No Gain

Net Annual Cost Savings (After Add'l Electricity and Monitor Cost)
x250 x500 x1000 x5000
Employees Employees Employees Employees
Single 24" Wide $ 2,324,891 $ 4,649,783 $ 9,299,565 $46,497,826
Single 22" Wide $ 1,978,612 $ 3,957,224 $ 7,914,449 $39,572,244
Dual 19" Std $ 1,564,908 $ 3,129,817 $ 6,259,634 $31,298,169
Single 19" Std $ 549,374 $ 1,098,748 $ 2,197,495 $10,987,476
Dual 17" Std $ 840,977 $ 1,681,953 $ 3,363,907 $16,819,535
Single 17" Std No Gain

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