As a web developer, I absolutely need multiple windows open – maybe more than for people in other professions. Due to the pandemic, like many people, I had to create a home office. I could have used the unused loft upstairs but I didn’t know I’d still be working from home after 2 years and I like being close to the kitchen so I converted the dining table into my work desk. Since I had some old monitors lying around, I used them to have multiple windows open. I thought we’d all just work from home for a month or two max so it didn’t seem worth it to spend money on fancy monitors.
As the pandemic progressed, I got a work allowance to buy office equipment for work from home (WFH). I badly needed an ergonomic and comfy work chair. I also got an ultrawide monitor to have even more screen real estate.
I thought about using my 65″ inch LG OLED TV as a monitor but the screen was WAY TOO BIG!
I then read an article about people using 43″ and 50″ TVs with a low input delay as their work monitor and how happy they’ve been. I got the Samsung 50″ ‘The Frame” TV at a 50% open-box discount at BestBuy. As much as it was nice reading code on it, anything on the left and right was uncomfortable to read.
I could have tried the 43″ model of the same TV but it cost more than I wanted to spend. Plus, I wanted more windows open at the same time. Fortunately, BestBuy had some open-box 32″ Samsung UJ59 4K monitors. Regular price: $340. Sale Price: $300. Open box price: $250 and $195 (both looked brand new even though they were open box items). After being tired of a messy dining room / office where I could see the back of my monitors, I decided to rearrange the dining room and get a more suitable desk.
I know what you’re thinking. Why is the laptop halfway off the desk. Since with two 4K monitors, I didn’t think I needed the laptop screen but, how can I resist an extra screen? I’ll get a drawer unit the same height as the desk, put it on the left side of the desk, and put the laptop on it. More importantly: why in the world didn’t I buy two 4K monitors before? This setup makes working so much better I regret not doing this sooner. Now, this setup works for me but you may need to adjust some settings to better suit yours.
Setting up the monitors
Before you go out and buy a bunch of 4K monitors, make sure you laptop / computer supports them. I have a MacBook Pro (2019) and according to Apple, I can run multiple 4K monitors.
My particular Samsung UJ59 monitors don’t have USB-C input – only HDMI – so I have to use a USB-C to HDMI adapter.
On MacOS, I chose to have my laptop screen be my main display and my 32″ monitors both be extended displays. You can then drag the squares representing screens to match your physical layout so that when you drag your mouse (I use a trackpad) off the edge of a screen/monitor, the pointer seamlessly appears on the adjacent screen, as you’d expect.
4K screens/TV support a native resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. But, you may find that reading code or blog posts difficult when the font is too small. There are two things you can do to address this:
Scale down the resolution
You can have your monitor show a picture at a lower than 4K resolution such that everything appears bigger.
Below are lower scaling options.
Increase the font size of some or all browser tabs / apps
If you’re in 4K mode and you feel the font is a bit too small to read, you can increase the font size of just that window or browser tab. I use VisualStudio Code as my code editor and I find that increasing the font size makes for a much more pleasant coding experience. Plus, since I have laid out my screen such that VS Code takes up the full height of the screen, I can still see a ton of code without having to scroll a lot.
One survey indicated that slightly more people preferred a single 4K TV as their monitor than people who prefer multiple 4K monitors. This all boils down to your use case. If you don’t need a million windows open like I do, then a single 43″ 4K TV may be better for you (don’t get a 50″ TV – it’s too big if you are sitting 2-3′ from the screen). Otherwise, multiple 4K monitors is definitely the way to go (with some custom setting adjustments to suit your viewing comfort).
The desk in the picture above was from IKEA. It was too wobbly so I replaced it with this Husky one from Home Depot. The side drawer unit is from IKEA.