Workers often spend eight hours a day staring at their computer monitors, and almost no time thinking about whether they're looking at the right kind of display for their work. Here are five things that you should think about when choosing a computer monitor for your employees.
With computer displays, size matters. A worker’s daily duties, along with your budget, will help you to determine the best display size (which you measure in inches, on the diagonal). Graphics-intensive work justifies a larger display, as do jobs that demand lots of data on the screen at once, although an alternative there is a multi-monitor setup. For a task worker focused on simple data entry, a smaller monitor, around 22 inches in size, should be fine.
Another metric linked to monitor size is the ratio of the height to the width, called the aspect ratio. Back in the day, monitors all came in the same 4:3 aspect ratio, but options have expanded over the years. Now you can get 5:4, 16:9 and 16:10. Some are even perfectly square with a 1:1 ratio.
Aspect ratio choices are subjective, but beware that wider monitors are harder to keep in the user’s field of vision, especially as their size increases. Too large, and you’ll slip into curved monitor territory, which makes it marginally easier to see the edge of the screen. This is for executives only — curved monitors will also bend your wallet out of shape.
A common misconception is that display size equals resolution. Whereas size represents the physical measurements of the display resolution refers to the number of pixels jammed into that space. The higher the resolution, the more you’ll be able to fit on the display and the crisper the image will be.
According to Statcounter, the most popular resolution for desktop platforms visiting web sites from Europe is 1920 x 1080 (commonly referred to as 1080p or full high definition (full HD). However, modern monitors go up to 4k (3840 x 2160), otherwise known as ultra-high definition (UHD). These are deluxe models, restricted to larger sizes, and the employee getting one had better be worth it, because you’ll pay handsomely for the privilege.
Pay close attention to the connections your monitor offers. Older PCs relied on Video Graphics Array (VGA) and SVGA connections that topped out at 800 x 600 resolution and are obsolete now. Modern monitors standardise on HDMI (the same cable often used for home TVs) and DisplayPort. HDMI can handle Ethernet data too, in some configurations, but DisplayPort doesn’t.
The state of the art in monitor connectors is USB-C, a fast data transfer protocol that can handle audio, video, and data. Be sure that the corresponding computer supports it, though; only relatively recent ones do.
Many monitors will also feature USB hubs, which could be convenient for users but a pain for your security department, which will want to lock down those ports to avoid data leakage or malware infection.
Ergonomics and mounting
Don’t forget ergonomic considerations when choosing a monitor. Look for ones that tilt and swivel at least slightly so that workers can adjust them to suit their exact height and distance. Some employee roles warrant monitors that can pivot through 90 degrees, entering portrait mode. Software developers love this, and so will knowledge workers like writers or those who have to read long reports. Spreadsheet junkies will want to stick with landscape. Most monitors also have a VESA mounting option that lets you attach them to a separate display arm, and can make them easier to pivot and tilt.
Also consider the width of the display’s viewing angle. In-screen switching (IPS) LCD displays let you see the image on the screen from a side angle, whereas traditional LCDs without this feature don’t. Choose a wide angle if customers and coworkers will want to crowd around it, but a narrower one for sensitive work.
Finally, consider the screen’s glare. Some workers like glossy screens, while others will prefer matte. Consider the office environment here. Lots of directed light in the background may call for a matte screen that doesn’t reflect it and dazzle the user.
Other metrics are more relevant for gamers or movie watchers than workers, such as refresh rate, the display panel technology, and the colour gamut. But for business needs, these guidelines should help you choose a monitor that saves your employees’ eyes, while also preserving your budget.
Check out the popular monitors below