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I bought a new monitor.

When the upstairs company printer finally expired (the first printer dmbsf bttpdjbuft ever owned), I thought about replacing it. But then I thought that we don't really need two printers, and the downstairs printer a) was colour b) was capable of two-sided printing and c) had two paper trays so I could wouldn't have to switch to headed paper whenever I wanted to print an invoice. So I moved the downstairs printer upstairs into my office.

To do this required the purchase of a wooden cabinet because the colour laser is too big to sit on the small chair that the old mono laser sat on. Luckily we were able to buy a perfect piece of furniture from a secondhand furniture store in Tavistock for just £12. Result.

Removing a large printer from my desk downstairs (this is the desk in the living room, the one that holds my main gaming PC) freed up quite a bit of desk space. And that got me thinking.

I could move the amp from the back right corner of the desk to the left hand side. That would enable me to add a second monitor to the desk. I've used two monitors for work for years and wouldn't go back to having just one monitor. For so much of my work, it is phenomenally useful to have one browser open on one monitor and another on a second monitor. My downstairs PC on the other hand has only a single 24" monitor. If I had two, then I could have Football Manager open on one screen and a web browser on the other. Think of the improvement in my life from not having to switch between windows!

So the next step was to buy a second monitor. This is not a simple process for someone like me.

You see, when it comes to stuff like computer hardware or cars or anything complicated, I am a rigorous researcher. I like to make sure that what I am buying is not just suitable, but good value, and the most appropriate option of those available. This approach usually pays off. The last time I bought a monitor was the one currently sat on my desk, a Dell 2407WFP. It's still going strong and it's been in use pretty much 24/7 for almost a decade. There have been times when my research has been less rigorous and I've ended up regretting my mistake, and when this has happened, it bugs me. This is why this decision has taken me weeks.

Easy stuff: 24". The existing monitor is 24", and it makes sense to get another of the same size if they are going to sit side-by-side.*

Harder stuff: 1920x1200 or 1920x1080?** 1080p is more common and cheaper but 1200p is a) the resolution of my existing monitor and b) usefully bigger in the vertical dimension.
TN or IPS panel.
If TN, cheap or 120/144hz panel?
Which manufacturer?
Which specific model?

Then I noticed that those monitor arms that support two monitors and clamp onto your desk are a lot cheaper than I thought. So I thought I could free even more desk space by mounting the monitors on an arm. So I picked an arm that could support two 24" monitors weighing up to 8kg each.

I have considered dozens of different monitors. I've read a lot of website reviews of monitors - the sort of review that uses professional colour calibration equipment and testing software and takes ten pages to to tell you everything about each monitor.  I have read scholarly articles explaining the difference in the orientation of the liquid crystals in a TN (twisted nematic) display to those in an IPS (in-plane switching) display and what this means for the monitor's performance. I have read articles by gaming experts on whether a 144hz refresh rate was really worth spending extra on with my current graphics card. I have watched YouTube video reviews of many different monitors.

This is what always happens when I have something like this to buy. I am beginning to realise that this is not entirely healthy. I did finally reach a decision this evening and have in fact bought a monitor. This monitor in fact. I then noticed that Amazon said that the weight was 9kg, which was more than the 8kg per screen that the stand I had selected would support, which was annoying. Luckily nowadays you can download detailed product manuals for pretty much anything and it turned out the 9kg weight was the weight of the entire package, including stand, cables, cardboard box and polystyrene packaging. The actual screen is much lighter. So that's ok then.

But still, I have spent hours and hours debating this decision. I know roughly how much I value my time because I know how much I charge dmbsf bttpdjbuft clients for it by the hour. And on that basis, I haven't got good value out of this buying decision.

* I'm lying. Although I settled on 24", I also considered 27" and 29" ultra-wide (21:9) format. And even 30". And for a brief moment 34" 4K. But that would be stupid and my graphics card wouldn't cope.
** Or 2560x1440? If I did that, I'd probably need a new graphics card too. And of course I considered this.***
*** And if I needed a new graphics card, which one?


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 16th, 2016 12:37 am (UTC)

I sometimes have the same problem, although all in all I've probably had more regrets over the times I didn't research a buying decision carefully enough.

Would it be helpful to delegate some of these decisions to a trusted source, e.g. a computer magazine whose reviews you generally find useful?
Mar. 16th, 2016 09:17 am (UTC)
Tempted to add that xkcd cartoon as a userpic...
Mar. 16th, 2016 08:21 am (UTC)
I do much the same. And am generally grateful for "top ten monitors" lists, which at least help me narrow things down.

My brother has a an ultra-wide curved monitor, which kinda-makes it the equivalent of two monitors stitched together, and curving around your viewpoint. Which is nice, but expensive.
Mar. 16th, 2016 09:22 am (UTC)
My graphics card is a GeForce 580GTX, which was once top-of-the-range, but is now several generations old. It's good enough to play stuff like GTAV at 1920x1200, but if I went up to a higher res screen, I would need to upgrade.

Despite this, I was seriously tempted by this:

The longer term plan is to have the graphics card upgrade (perhaps later this year) and then at some point after that move up to a higher res screen, with the two 24-inchers moving upstairs to become monitors for my work PC.
Mar. 16th, 2016 08:49 am (UTC)
Shopping around is good. Shopping around which eats your brain for days and days, renders you incapable of thinking of anything else and ultimately leads you back to the item you first thought of? 'not entirely healthy' is right.
Mar. 16th, 2016 09:23 am (UTC)
Not totally incapable. There's always a part of my brain devoted to Football Manager...
Mar. 16th, 2016 09:32 am (UTC)
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Mar. 16th, 2016 01:28 pm (UTC)
I understand the whole decision making dilemma when it comes to buying stuff. Added pressure for me as it's what I do for a job, so am expected to come up with good results every time too :-) I am quite good at being decisive, but have to curb my tendency to go for things with specs I don't really need but interest me as they always push the price of what I'm looking at up :-)
Mar. 16th, 2016 02:57 pm (UTC)
I think I'd be bad at your job. Either that or I'd be quite good but I'd end up working massive amounts of overtime and I'd struggle to make a decision in time for the necessary deadline.

(I feel my userpic is relevant to your comment...)
Mar. 16th, 2016 10:14 pm (UTC)
Fortunately a lot of the time we have to work within very tight specs, and also within a certain monetary limit you can go for whatever you want, though we are always supposed to go with the cheapest. At the higher levels everything is assessed by pre-determined criteria and then everything which meets it assessed for price and we have to go with the lowest. The time consuming part is deciding on the minimum criteria in the first place. Even then, strictly that should be down to the requesting office to supply, though generally they have no clue, so I have to make suggestions. In my home life it is harder as I have no framework to adhere to and have to make all my own decisions based on my own criteria.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )