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Why high-res displays deliver business value

Monitor envy may be setting in at your office. We'll show you why the upgrade may pay for itself.

Your staff has seen big monitors nearly everywhere – in ads, at other companies, and even on the desks of any design professionals you employ. Monitor envy is already setting in at your office, and folks are starting to request upgrades.

Should you go for it? Until recently, the answer was a firm "maybe." But things have changed. Older HD monitors have given way to 4K and even 8K monitors, which offer high-resolution displays and excellent color reproduction.

What's a 4K monitor?

A 4K monitor has a resolution that's nearly 4,000 pixels wide, hence the name. In practice, a 4K monitor is 3,840 pixels wide and 2,160 pixels tall. That's four times the resolution of a high-definition (HD) monitor. You can, in fact, open four HD images on a 4K monitor at the same time. An 8K monitor doubles the resolution of a 4K monitor, which makes it 7,680 pixels wide by 4,320 pixels tall.

While you can open a lot of HD screens on a 4K or 8K monitor, chances are you're not going to do this on a regular basis. What these high-resolution monitors do is allow workers to keep multiple windows visible at the same time. Cutting and pasting from web pages to documents or spreadsheets is a lot easier when they're side by side. Just the simple act of switching among windows on a smaller screen can waste precious minutes of each workday. 

When you're working with a 4K or larger monitor, you'll find that you can open a full-sized image of an 8 ½ by 11 sheet of paper on your screen and have room for another one next to it. You don't have to keep sorting through things that are on top of each other. What's even better is that the high-resolution screens display documents and images with greater clarity, which improves productivity and may reduce complaints about eye strain.

Incidentally, 4K and 8K monitors tend to be large. 4K monitors usually start in the 27-inch range and go up from there. 8K monitors generally  start at 32 inches.

There's a study

Back in 2007, a team led by Dr. James A. Anderson at the University of Utah studied the productivity impact of larger, high-resolution screens compared to smaller screens and multiple screens. The results, published in Productivity, Screens, and Aspect Ratios, found that smaller, single-screen displays were the least efficient, followed by dual-display setups. Larger displays, where more work fit on the same screen, were the most efficient.

"The single screen was the least productive display configuration overall and the widescreen the most." Anderson and his team found. "The widescreen monitor scored a 52 percent increase in performance values over the single, 18-inch monitor and an 18 percent increase over the dual 18s in the text-editing task. There will be measurable gains in productivity and the work will be judged as easier to do," Anderson reported.

Monitors in 2022

One of the products that Dell announced at CES this January was a new 4K monitor designed specifically for video conferencing. The U3233QZ is expected to ship in late March, and it includes speakers and a 4K webcam built into the top bezel of the monitor. The new monitor joins several other 4K models, ranging from the 4K P2721Q 27-inch monitor to the 43-inch U4320Q. Dell also offers an 8K monitor, the UP3218K, aimed at photographers and graphic artists.  

There's also the U4121QW, an ultra-widescreen curved monitor that meets 4K resolution but is listed as 5K because of its wider screen.

It's worth noting that most of these large monitors have more than one video input, which means that you can use them with multiple computers and switch between them easily.

While these high-resolution monitors may be more expensive than the standard displays you're used to seeing, they'll pay for themselves with increased productivity, and you'll likely see morale improve because your workers will appreciate the aesthetic benefits and comfort of a high-resolution display.

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