Matt RaibleMatt Raible is a Web Developer and Java Champion. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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Over 10 years ago, I wrote my first blog post. Since then, I've authored books, had kids, traveled the world, found Trish and blogged about it all.

One 30" monitor or two 23" monitors?

As part of Julie and I's divorce settlement, I let her keep my 23" Cinema Display along with its attached Windows PC. Since I like having a Windows PC available, I managed to buy the same machine on eBay for $250. However, now I'm in the market for a new monitor.

So what should I get? One 30" cinema display or two 23" displays?

I'm leaning towards two 23 inchers. Matrox's DualHead2Go seems to provide exactly what I'd need to hook two 23s to a MacBook Pro. Furthermore, I could hook it up to my DVI KVM switch and have dual monitors on both my Mac and my PC. No matter how big the screen is, I always seem to enjoy dual monitors more.

What do you think? Is anyone out there using Matrox's DualHead2Go Digital Edition?

Posted in Mac OS X at Aug 10 2007, 11:42:24 AM MDT 23 Comments

I'm rather partial to the 30" cinema display myself. It felt a little awkward at first but now I can't imagine life without it. The dual display stuff has always seemed "neat" but I've never seen any friends with that setup actually use them as efficiently and with as much ROI as just one big fuc%$ display.

Posted by Jesse Kuhnert on August 10, 2007 at 12:03 PM MDT #

I recently upgraded to a 24'' monitor, my brother need a monitor so I let him buy my old 21''. As much as I hate to admit it, I think I liked the 21'' better. I find myself moving my head to see different parts of the screen on the 24'' and it's rather distracting. Maybe I just need to get used to it? Overall though, I'd rather have just one screen and (Alt|Ctrl) / Tab as necessary. Just like writing software, keep it simple.

Posted by Keller on August 10, 2007 at 12:17 PM MDT #

I like the multiple displays myself, especially with the advent of fast Mac virtualization: VMWare on one monitor full-screen, and a desktop on the other, and seemless mouse/clipboard between the 2 is priceless. The one caveat with Matrox's solution seems to be that your Mac still thinks it's running one big monitor, so where dialogs pop up, or how windows align themselves won't respect borders (of course, you get 1 big stretched menu bar) Another options is Magma's expresscard PCI box -- . It would actually let you at a 7300 and drive 2 monitors off that. I have to admit, then you could use the built in panel and 2 side monitors. ($1000 is steep though) Personally, I like the 2 finger right click and scroll on the touchpad better than a mouse, but only if I have a monitor directly in front of me, as opposed to on the side.

Posted by Jason Shao on August 10, 2007 at 12:23 PM MDT #

I work with a 30" Cinema display hooked up to my MacBook Pro. I find it's better to have a single screen, if it's wide. With two monitors you get the two frames just in the middle of your view and will constantly be moving your eyes from one screen to the other. Not every comfortable in the long run. With a 30" wide screen you just resize the windows as you need them and move only your eyes, but not your head.

Posted by Stephan Schwab on August 10, 2007 at 12:24 PM MDT #

I recently switched from dual 24" monitors to a single 30" monitor. I prefer the single 30" since I spend most of my time in Eclipse and that allows me to have two code windows side-by-side without any of the views feeling cramped. You can see a pic of the old and new setup and my write-up here:

Posted by Joel Meyer on August 10, 2007 at 12:28 PM MDT #

@Stephen That's ~exactly~ the reason why I decided on one big display. Your explanation is better. ;)

Posted by Jesse Kuhnert on August 10, 2007 at 01:12 PM MDT #

Hi, I'm using a Dell 24" and find it super, put I'm pondering to tilt it 90 degrees and grab another one. Problem is that that doesn't fit my MBP. But mate, 24" is nice. :-) Just like Joel I spend most of my time in Eclipse and I'm having a ball in there at 1900x1200. Then I have the API references I need in a browser window on my 15" MBP. Only problem with this is that when I switch to single screen on the road, Eclipse remembers its position and is therefore outside my monitor. Doh! ;-) Guys, do you get a higher resolution on your 30" screens with a MBP?

Posted by Nik on August 10, 2007 at 01:20 PM MDT #

Matt - what KVM switch do you use? I have the Dell 24" hooked to a Window PC and a MacBook, but I had to search high and low to find a DVI KVM that works with higher than 1600x1200 resolution. I settled on the Gefen, but it's not perfect.

Posted by ron on August 10, 2007 at 02:11 PM MDT #

None my personal business, but what do you mean by "divorce settlement"? I hope I have read it wrong.

Posted by Madhu on August 10, 2007 at 02:52 PM MDT #

Now I feel like an idiot. Sincere apologies. Do please delete my entries if you can. I realize that I could not.

Posted by Madhu on August 10, 2007 at 02:57 PM MDT #

I'll buy you a beer or two the next time we meet at the DenverJUG. These must be rough times...

I am currently not using my DualHead2Go. It worked ok with 2 17" LCD monitors but did have some issues with most games... One thing to keep in mind is that it may not have the bandwidth to drive anything over 2x1280x1024. Still, you can borrow mine if you want to give it a try. I might even let you buy it at a discount.


Posted by Frederic Jean on August 10, 2007 at 02:57 PM MDT #

Madhu - you didn't read that wrong. I explained it earlier this week. Don't worry, it's not a bad thing and there are no victims. There's no reason to feel sorry for me or Julie. We both think it's a good thing and are doing our best to make sure the kids don't suffer from it. We plan on remaining friends and raising the kids together as a family. The reason I didn't open comments up in my earlier post is I don't feel it's something that needs to be discussed and I certainly didn't want to get a bunch of "I'm sorry to hear that" comments. There's really nothing to feel sorry for - sometimes it's as simple as "things didn't work out".

Posted by Matt Raible on August 10, 2007 at 02:59 PM MDT #

Wow - I didn't expect such good feedback. Based on everyone saying 1 is better than 2 and Frederic saying the DualHead2Go doesn't work that well - it seems the 30" is the way to go. Thanks guys!

Posted by Matt Raible on August 10, 2007 at 03:08 PM MDT #

Before you make that final decision Matt, if you haven't seen it already Jeff Atwood recently posted some thoughts on a similar question

Posted by Jeff S. on August 10, 2007 at 03:50 PM MDT #

Sweet jesus you need a better lawyer.

Posted by Alonso on August 10, 2007 at 06:11 PM MDT #

Wow, I was going to say do the 2, 24" monitors until I saw the grid move app on Jeff Atwoods blog (thanks Jeff S). That's really a great idea if you have the real estate to use it.

Posted by Mike C. on August 10, 2007 at 07:56 PM MDT #

Get 30" and use WinSplit revolution to separate the screen into 2, 3 or 4 sections.

Posted by Aries McRae on August 11, 2007 at 08:13 AM MDT #

OK I am going to hijack this post from Matt by a not-that-much-off-topic ;) Since I see there are a lot of nice guys here who have good experience in hardware for developers subject I wanna to ask if you have any preferred ergonomic keyboard while developing software? I have really bad time with most keyboards that I examined and want to find something that doesn't hurt my arms at long runs. Again, sorry for this off topic :)

Posted by Ashkan on August 11, 2007 at 08:50 AM MDT #

Ashkan - you might look at my Carpal Tunnel post from last year. I received lots of comments and recommendations for keyboards.

Posted by Matt Raible on August 11, 2007 at 08:56 AM MDT #

Your kidding. Go with the 30 and a smaller 20/23 to the right or left.

Great for slingplayer on the smaller screen and other annoying stuff like IM.

Posted by Patrick on August 12, 2007 at 06:47 AM MDT #

Hey Matt, you might want to check out The Large Display Paradox before you make any decisions.

Posted by Martin Cooper on August 13, 2007 at 02:27 PM MDT #

After reading The Large Display Paradox, it seems like I should either find something like WinSplit Revolution for the Mac, or get 2 monitors. I agree with everything that Jeff Atwood says about maximizing windows, that's why I originally thought two 23" monitors might be better.

Posted by Matt Raible on August 13, 2007 at 02:34 PM MDT #

[Trackback] Back in August, I asked if it was better to have one 30" monitor or two 23" monitors ? After many comments, I concluded: After reading The Large Display Paradox , it seems like I should either find something like WinSplit Revolution for the Ma...

Posted by Raible Designs on August 29, 2009 at 09:41 AM MDT #

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