For digital professionals, the tools of the trade — IDEs, as well as document and photo editors — are vital to productivity. Unfortunately, most of these programs are poorly suited to a single 16:9 monitor. This often prompts multiple monitor setups, usually with complicated driver and OS support, as well as introducing an ugly bezel in the middle of your workspace.
Overall, while 1080p screens are optimal for media consumption, they leave something to be desired for programmers and designers. As such, various monitor manufacturers are introducing new, unique panels aimed toward professional and enthusiast users.
An elegant replacement for the dual-monitor setup
The AOC U3477PQU is a very unique 34" monitor, with a 21:9 aspect ratio and 3440x1440 (WQHD) resolution. At a basic level, it is a great drop-in replacement for users with a dual-screen setup, though it has a variety of other features that make it an attractive option for other use cases.
First, at a hardware level, it can display inputs from two systems side-by-side, simultaneously, or place another input in a picture-in-picture display. The monitor arm also supports rotating the screen 90 degrees for a vertical orientation.
It also has RS-232 support for use in security installations — with the available screen real estate, it can adeptly handle simultaneous streaming of 16 video feeds. The U3477PQU supports HDMI, DVI Dual Link, and DisplayPort, and contains two 3 watt speakers for desktop audio. It includes a USB3 hub for ease of access.
A 1:1 monitor that is "wide all around"
The EIZO FlexScan EV2730Q is a 26.5" monitor with a unique 1:1 1920x1920 display. It is targeted to users that need a great deal of screen real estate for use cases where content is primarily vertical, such as programming with an IDE, and editing files such as text documents and spreadsheets.
EIZO notes that this design reduces unnecessary scrolling, and allows programmers to see all of their work at once. This also allows for multiple views, such as a design view and code view for editing web pages, as well as for email programs. The FlexScan EV2730Q supports DVI Dual Link and HDMI, and has two 1 watt speakers and a USB2 hub. It will be available in Q1 2015.
The option for users on a budget: turn it sideways
As noted by Mike Wehner of The Daily Dot, most computer-related tasks do not benefit from a widescreen setting, except for watching videos and playing games. He recommends simply rotating your monitor 90 degrees to make it vertical. Previously, LCD technology was not quite up to the task — viewing a monitor at anything other than the standard orientation and looking straight at it led to washed-out colors.
This advice has been a long time coming: the highly influential Xerox Alto had a vertically oriented monitor, as did the ill-fated Sony eVilla internet appliance. Modern displays and graphics cards do not have the limitations these early systems did — no performance penalty exists today for having a vertically oriented screen, and modern LCDs are well equipped to handle the task.
What about you?
With a wider variety of available options, would you buy a monitor designed for digital professionals? Or, would you prefer to simply turn your existing widescreen monitor 90 degrees for a similar effect? Let us know your opinion and what use cases you would prefer in a non-standard monitor.
James Sanders is a Tokyo-based programmer and technology journalist. Since 2013, he has been a regular contributor to TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research.