Apple 30 Inch Cinema Display Boosts Productivity up to 73%

March 27, 2006

apple 30 inch cinema display If you've been trying to figure out a way to get your hands on a 30" Apple Cinema Display, show your boss these reports on the productivity gains associated with using larger, or multiple monitors.

There is a new report out by Pfeiffer Consulting called The 30 inch Apple Cinema HD display productivity benchmark.

Apple has posted some highlights of the report:

"Cumulated productivity gains linked to a large, high-resolution display can lead to a return on investment (ROI) of several thousand dollars per year. "

This report cites productivity gains between 40-73% for various tasks. With those kinds of productivity gains you can see how the ROI would quickly add up.

This report isn't the first one to make such claims. Back in 2003 Microsoft Research published a report called: Toward Characterizing the Productivity Benefits of Very Large Displays. The Microsoft Research team found that users performed 300 actions related to window adjustments.

Here are some more links on display size:

I've been using multiple monitors for a while, and I think I'm probably about 25% more productive with more display area. If your a programmer the extra space is great for keeping documentation open, if your a web developer you can have your code on one monitor, and your browser on another.

Also keep in mind that other than productivity ROI, you can also get ROI with energy savings - LCD monitors use much less energy than CRT monitors.

Do you use multiple displays, or large displays? Do you see a productivity gain? Know of any other productivity studies?

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At my old job as a web developer, I had two monitors and I definately was more productive because of it. Like you said, it was easy to have the code on one monitor and the pages on the other. Or I could have two code windows open to compare query or stored procedure calls to the actual database content. Or even e-mail with bug reports and the browser so I could replicate the problem. I felt that it really allowed me to get a lot more done. Unfortunately, now I've got a new job as a DBA and I only get one monitor for now. The only time I've ever seen anyone have problems with dual monitors was in college I had a friend who was a gamer, and different games would start themselves up on different monitors. Didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to it...
I have had some issues on a dual headed setup using Expose clones for Windows: See Other than that, I've never had any problems, you just need two video cards and XP is able to handle multiple displays just fine. Also I suppose some businesses might say that games not working, is another business advantage to multiple monitors.
I have used dual monitors for years, in fact my home system has three 19 inch monitors. But I recently purchased two 24 inch Dell flat panels thinking I'd gain more screen real estate (using an XFX nVidia GeForce 7800 GTX graphics card) and I was disappointed. Imagine what you see on a 19 inch panel magnified to a 24 inch size. That's what happened. The icons on the desktop were each the size of a quarter. Text was huge, like 16 or 20 pt size (despite being set to 10pt.) Resolution on the card was set to the 24 inch panel's native resolution. So don't be fooled by the big monitors. Unless you're blind and want huge text, there's nothing to gain by going larger than a 21 inch monitor. I called tech support at Dell and they confirmed what I experienced; so I sent the 24 inchers back. It makes sense too...imagine the resolution a 24 inch panel would need to make everything tiny like 1600x1200 on a 19 inch CRT. There's just too much surface. If anybody out there has evidence to the contrary, please email me and let me know. Apple's website has an animation that makes it appear that the bigger the panel the more screen real estate you gain. I haven't tried the Apple panels, but they are the same resolution as the Dell's.
CNET recently did a review of both the Apple Cinema and Dell 30 inch flat panels
Here's another related Microsoft paper titled "Display Space Usage and Window Management Operation Comparisons between Single Monitor and Multiple Monitor Users"
this ones a no-brainer: just look at the set-ups that oil/commodities traders use - no less than 3, often up to 6 displays per trader. these companies don't give their traders that much real estate for fun. they do it for productivity. That's one X display, 4096 x 768 pixels of happy fun goodness.
So, are two 30" monitors more productive than one? What's the breakeven point in number of monitors?
Looks like Apple bumped up their specs on constrast and brightness to match the Dell. Here's the reference:
Indeed. Multiple monitors are a godsend as a student. When I go to my parents' house, I have my 19" flat screen, but when I'm at school I have my iBook hooked up to a 15" flat screen (hacked with ScreenSpanning Doctor). I do notice that I get incredibly more work done faster when I'm in my room with both screens. It's a win.
Hans writes: >So, are two 30" monitors more productive than one? What's > the breakeven point in number of monitors? I actually went to a SIGCHI talk once, with a pretty sharp dude discussing this kind of question. He pointed out that your eyes have a minimum size font they can read at a given distance, so a document on your monitor, to be comfortably read, should be the same size as on paper. From that it follows that having several documents visible at once on a monitor emulating a "desktop" requires as much physical space as having the same documents, on paper, visible on your real desktop. And that an optimal screen combined size is similar to the size of an optimal work area on a real desktop. Of course this will vary between people. Some people need more desktop space (on a real desk) than others, some need more documents visible at once to work, and some people can comfortably read smaller fonts, too. But in general his answer was that an optimal total screen area is about the same as that person's optimal real desktop work area. Cool.
Just wanted to say that though this is an thread, it's still very useful! Cheers :) /Doug
The quad- and six-core processors will use the Intel Westmere chips. The 12-core Mac Pro, with a claimed 1.3x performance advantage over the 8-core version, does not hit the Apple Store until August. It will definitely not be cheap, but it's also not meant for the casual user.

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