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Setting up a two-monitor system: is it worth it?
Thread poster: Mikhail Kropotov

Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 23:28
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Feb 12, 2007

I'm considering adding another monitor on my desktop. I've heard from different people that it's a useful setup, but obviously there are questions.

Before anyone objects on repetition grounds: I HAVE searched the forums. The relevant threads usually deal with troubleshooting issues, whereas I'm just interested in pooling together some info which will help me (or anyone else) make an informed decision.

So, the key questions are:

- Have you tried it yourself?
- Was it successful? I.e. did you improve your productivity?
- In which translation scenarios did it benefit you most?
- Ultimately, was the investment worth it?

Additionally, I wonder...

- Do the monitors have to be identical?
- What size monitors are best for this setup?
- Do you need a second video card?
- Does the CPU get strained as a result?

I appreciate your input very much.

Regards,
Mikhail


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Kevin Fulton
United States
Local time: 16:28
German to English
Worth the effort Feb 12, 2007

When I upgraded my computer system, the new unit came with a video card with 2 outputs, digital and analog. Since no one wanted my heavy (35 kilo) old 20-inch monitor, I decided to hook it up to the new computer. Windows XP allows you to use 2 monitors through an easily selectable option, the extended desktop. It took about 1 minute to configure (probably less).

Since I run several applications at one time with as many as 20 windows, I've found the setup to be invaluable. I use a translation tool which I display on my new bright monitor. The source document and browser window are on the secondary monitor.

The only personal adjustment I've had to make is cursor control. Even though there are 2 screens, you have to move the cursor between them. It took weeks to get used to this.

I'd say that this setup has improved my productivity. Your best solution would be to get a video card with two outputs with a lot of RAM, one that provides its own memory, not relying on the computer's RAM.

But you need a big enough desk ...


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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 17:28
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
My experience Feb 12, 2007

I'm very happy about my dual monitor configuration and would be reluctant to go back to a single monitor.
Here are my answers to your specific questions:


- Have you tried it yourself?
Yes, I'm using it for about 5 years.


- Was it successful? I.e. did you improve your productivity?
Yes, more space allows to keep various concurrent applications or use larger fonts.



- In which translation scenarios did it benefit you most?

Many scenarios:
Word document in a screen, source file in the other
or
Word document in a screen, Trados Workbench and Concordance in the other screen
or
My work in a screen, and email or messenger or browser in the other
and in general...
any combination of applications in the second screen not stealing space to my full screen work


- Ultimately, was the investment worth it?
Yes, and the video card have now a modest cost (I use a Matrox G400, now an old model)


- Do the monitors have to be identical?
No, mine are both 17" but you can use any combination
(19" and 17", 17"+17", 17"+15" or what you have)
The spftware driver that came with the cart, allows to set up each monitor with its own resolution, if they have different size you can use each of them at the best resolution for its size.


- What size monitors are best for this setup?
I'm happy with two 17" monitors, now they are quite inexpensive


- Do you need a second video card?
I use a dual head card (Matrox G400) but I don't know if the configuration can be obtained installing two single head cards in parallel.


- Does the CPU get strained as a result?
I have not noticed any ill effect in the PC performance.



bye
Gianfranco




[Edited at 2007-02-12 12:17]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:28
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
One small answer Feb 12, 2007

A cheaper, but obviously less satisfying, alternative is to use virtual desktops.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_desktop

A very simple one is:
Screen-It v1.2
http://www.theabsolute.net/sware (151 kb download)



[Edited at 2007-02-12 12:25]


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Jabberwock  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 22:28
Member (2004)
English to Polish
Yes, it is! Feb 12, 2007

I find dual monitor setup very useful.

As most of the questions are already answered, just a few comments:

Most of the modern cards have at least two output ports. It is usually also possible to combine onboard (motherboard) graphics output with an additional card (AGP or PCI). In some, rare cases there might be problems, so probably you should check it out before buying. Dual-output cards work with no problems whatsoever.

The CPU/GPU load is practically unnoticeable, unless you use two monitors for graphic-intensive applications (i.e. games).

The sizes and the resolutions might be different, but usually it is best to have one Windows desktop on two monitors, so if the resolution of both monitors is the same it is easier to use. This might be important if you go for two LCD monitors, as they work best with their native resolution.

You might also consider getting one monitor with the pivot function - I use one monitor (CRT) set in landscape view and the LCD in portrait view, which has great advantages. You can see the whole page of the original without scrolling, for example. Also some applications are easier to work with in the portrait setup.

Finally, I would recommend using an application, such as UltraMon, to get the most of the various settings. Although the graphics driver software (e.g. NVidia) provides the same options, they are not that obvious or well-explained.


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Claudia Krysztofiak  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:28
English to German
+ ...
Very happy with it Feb 12, 2007

I just happened to get an old flat screen monitor from a company that no longer needed it and I happened to have a graphic card with two outputs (not a very new one) analog and digital.

I have been working with two monitors for roughly three weeks now and I already do not want to miss it.

I often work with multiple applications and I love doing research on one screen and typing my text on the other (the larger) one.

It was most helpful when I had to translate documents on a remote desktop on a customer's server, so I could use my tools on one screen and still have one screen left for the remote desktop.

My monitors are of different size and brand which seems to be no problem as well.

The cursor moves smoothly from one screen to the other, it is just as if you had a monitor of double width with a hole in the middle.

I did not notice any processor or performance problems so far but this may depend on the graphic card you use.


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CathyFS  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:28
German to English
+ ...
Very useful! Feb 12, 2007

I use a laptop and sometimes plug in an external monitor, then choose the Extended Desktop feature in Windows XP to activate this monitor. It takes a while to get used to the mouse alright, it annoys me at times.

I use the second desktop if, for example, I want to be able to view a source file in a different format (PDF, PowerPoint...). I also use it sometimes if I'm translating via a a company's server that I'm connecting to over the Internet. I might need to leave reference material open on my own PC while I translate via the server I'm accessing remotely.

To be honest, you should be able to get an additional monitor at a very good price. Mine is flat-panel and cost a fortune at the tme, but the prices have gone way down since. Because the mouse bugs me so much when I use the extended desktop feature, I really only use it when I feel it'll speed translation up. But I'm about to sell my old PC without the monitor... that's too valuable to get rid of.

I'd recommend you go ahead with it if you feel you need it. I hate printing - it's a waste of paper and a massive waste of expensive ink. If you were printing out reference material all the time, a second monitor should definitely work out cheaper. If I don't use a 2nd monitor, I still wouldn't print out reference material, and at times all the flicking back and forth between TagEditor and whatever and the original format (in files where it's necessary for me to do so) drives me barmy.


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olbec  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 22:28
English to Danish
+ ...
Top it up Feb 12, 2007

It is worth it. No question about it. However, I find it easier and less space consuming if I put the secondary screen behind or "on top" of my laptop screen. This way, I have no problems moving the mouse about. If I have a long document, it is even possible to pull it down across both screens. My normal setup is Tag Editor "on top" and Workbench at the bottom and concordance in the middle.

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Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:28
German to English
+ ...
Do it! Feb 12, 2007

Mikhail Kropotov wrote:

- Have you tried it yourself?

Yes!

- Was it successful? I.e. did you improve your productivity?

I would not want to live without it

- In which translation scenarios did it benefit you most?

Particularly when using a CAT tool in a format like PPT or HTML where you are never sure what is a headline, what could/should be capitalised etc. CAT file to the right, source file to the left.

- Ultimately, was the investment worth it?

You betcha!

Additionally, I wonder...

- Do the monitors have to be identical?

No.

- What size monitors are best for this setup?

Biggest you can/want to afford. I have two flatties.

- Do you need a second video card?

No. But a different one that will handle both screens. See above.

- Does the CPU get strained as a result?

Not as far as I know, and I can't imagine why it should.

Additional benefits. You can haul files/open applications "through thin air" from left to right. You can for example pull things like Google, E-mail etc. to the left screen so that when you click the button on the bottom of the main screen, these will then pop-up on the left while you are working (see Claudia's comment). If you use Skype, for instance, you can discuss a document that is open on the right with your client who is on the left.

Go for it. You'll love it!

The only problem is that you get double screen shots (but maybe there's a techie workaround that I don't know about.

Good luck
Chris

P.S. I know a Prozette lady in Germany who uses three monitors (Salut, ma chérie)



[Edited at 2007-02-12 18:07]


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Laurent Boudias  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:28
English to French
+ ...
for double screenshots... Feb 12, 2007

Alt+Print Screen

You only get the active window.

But you have also some software like snagit that are perfect for doing screenshots.

I have 2 screens at work too and it's wonderful. No problem so far.


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Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:28
German to English
+ ...
Dumbklick Feb 12, 2007

Laurent Boudias wrote:

Alt+Print Screen

You only get the active window.



Thanks Laurent!

Clearly I never thought sufficiently:

Click left/Alt+Print Screen/Click right and paste.

I never used screenshots much and just assumed...

Mikhail: please ignore what I said was a disadvantage.

Cheers
Chris


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Jan Kolbaba  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 22:28
Member (2006)
English to Czech
+ ...
best solution Feb 12, 2007

Do not wait and increase your productivity.

I have been using this solution for four years and must say it is very comfortable. I cannot imagine working with only one screen.
I just wanted to inform you that if you dont have two outputs on your graphic card you can buy a module which will allow you to add two or three monitors with a combined resolution:

http://www.matrox.com/graphics/en/gxm/products/dh2go/digital/home.php
or
http://www.matrox.com/graphics/en/gxm/products/dh2go/home.php

or (I am going to purchase this Graphics eXpansion Module):
http://www.matrox.com/graphics/en/gxm/products/th2go/home.php

good luck
Jan


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Alexey Ivanov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 23:28
English to Russian
Software for work with 2 monitors? Feb 14, 2007

I have been using 2 comps joined in a LAN which more or less serves the same purpose for quite some time. But after reading this thread (I heartily thank Mikhail for starting this discussion) I decided to try just one machine with 2 monitors. As apparently it will give me more space on my desk and result in fewer loose wires. What I find a bit inconvenient is that I can open a separate file minimum in 3 steps: 1) drag and drop the file onto the workdesk and 2) dragging it into the other screen, and finally 3) open it. Does anyone know if there is specilized software for work with 2 monitors using which you will have the same identical menus in the 2nd screen but will be able to open different files?
Thanks in advance.

Alex


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Kim Sanderson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:28
German to English
+ ...
Going back to 1 monitor - Trados concordance window Jun 1, 2007

Dear all

I work with 2 monitors usually, and would highly recommend it.

However, I have temporarily switched to using a single monitor and had a problem I thought I'd mention.

I then had the problem that the Trados concordance window was trying to appear in the second monitor, meaning that I couldn't see it!

Just to let you know there's a post on the Trados support site about this - (haven't copied over the details)

Question
Trados Concordance window does not appear when executing Concordance... command in Workbench's Tools menu. Why?
Answer
Concordance window is invoked, but it is positioned outside the monitor screen. PC Registry settings need to be adjusted to make it visible again.

Hope that helps someone some time,

Kim

[Edited at 2007-06-01 16:53]


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Bram Poldervaart  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:28
Member (2002)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Concordance window does not show up Sep 10, 2008

Kim Sanderson wrote:

Dear all

I work with 2 monitors usually, and would highly recommend it.

However, I have temporarily switched to using a single monitor and had a problem I thought I'd mention.

I then had the problem that the Trados concordance window was trying to appear in the second monitor, meaning that I couldn't see it!

Just to let you know there's a post on the Trados support site about this - (haven't copied over the details)

Question
Trados Concordance window does not appear when executing Concordance... command in Workbench's Tools menu. Why?
Answer
Concordance window is invoked, but it is positioned outside the monitor screen. PC Registry settings need to be adjusted to make it visible again.

Hope that helps someone some time,

Kim

[Edited at 2007-06-01 16:53]



I have been working with two screens and now my concorcance window has disappeared. You said the PC registry settings need to be adjusted..How do I do that? Thanks,

Bram


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