I recently changed my desktop monitor to a super ultra wide 49” and I love it. Here is why.
My venerable 27” Dell was becoming dangerously flaky, this led me to shop for a new monitor. I knew I wanted a big monitor. In fact, I’ve always preferred a big monitor with lots of physical real estate vs virtual desktops. Virtual desktops never cut it for me, my head gets confused.
One thing the 27” was not very good at is the ability to put two apps vertically side by side with enough real estate in each to be comfortable. Comparing two documents, reading one document while writing another, keeping a terminal on the side while working on the app code, comparing two code bases side by side… Usages are plenty for this. While 27” is awesome to get lots of space for one app, two vertically split were limiting.
One monitor vs two
I explored three options:
- one big monitor in front, plus one (possibly smaller monitor) on the side
- two big monitors side by side
- one monster monitor (that I did not know existed before)
It’s mainly a matter of usage and ergonomics.
A side bar on ergonomics
The recommended position is to have the top of the monitor at or slightly lower than the eye level.
And the head should not be turned (left / right) or it will lead to neck and shoulders tensions.
One main monitor
Ergonomically speaking, option 1 is better than option 2 when you primarily work on one monitor but need to keep some apps always on and want to look at them from time to time. Maybe attention grabbing apps like Slack. (I personally do not recommend to keep those opened but that’s for another post). The main point is that your neck should not be twisted for long periods of time.
Two monitors side by side
If you plan to equally look at each monitor and swap every minute or so, your neck will not get stiff. The symmetric dual monitor option is good for that.
The main problem with this option is that to look at a single app for long periods, you need to have it span between monitors (if your OS supports that). But the borders, while quite thin these days will get in your way.
Super ultra wide 49” monitor
Now there is an alternative solution to the border problem. You can buy monitors that are literally two 16:9 monitors side by side under a single panel. That’s right, it’s a 49” 32:9 monitor. That’s big, big enough that from the usual arm length sitting position, you need the monitor to be curved (this is the first time I’ve seen effective use of curved screens).
With this configuration, you can center your main app. The side apps can then go left and right. When you need to go in comparison mode or work on one document while looking at another, use half the screen for each. You can maximize apps too, but like in the front seat of a movie theater, you need to turn your head quite frequently 😅, it’s overwhelming. Still I use that model when I mix the soundtracks of my podcasts.
Coupled with window resizing apps like Rectangle (this one is for macOS), you can quickly resize and move your windows with shortcuts:
- center 1/3 (or left / right)
- center half and 1/4 sides
- half left or right
- and many more combinations
I personally went for the Samsung 49” CRG9 (120 Hz). Yes it’s an gaming monitor but gamers and coders and quite alike. I know the LG and the Dell are supposedly really good too.
Side note, so called ultra wide monitors are either 21:9 or 32:9 ratio. The 21:9 is not as long so if you have the space and the budget, go for the bigger one.
Besides the price, the main catch is that sharing your screen is quite a feat. Apps like Bluejeans or Google Meet do some weird downscaling rendering it blurry for your audience. And if you share your entire screen, well let’s say it’s quite wide for people without a 32:9.
Would you buy it again?
Definitely. This monitor has become an integral part of my work routine and I adjusted real fast to the real estate :)
PS: I have not tried it yet but my monitor can display two input sources (from two computers) as if I had two side by side monitors. This can come in handy for people with dual systems.