Tools of the Trade
If you work in Web Development then you know how important your work environment is. Anything form the mouse, to the desk, right down to your monitor play a huge part in your development. When I say development, I mean coding, programming, typing. I mean all those things you do on a regular basis.
I mean, let’s face it. You sit behind your desk and stare at those tool all day long. Don’t you want the best possible experience that empowers you to do your best? Of course you do!
As a developer myself who is, probably, too obsessed with his peripherals, I can tell you from experience that nothing irks me more than a crappy monitor. I have gone through small monitors, fuzzy monitors, colorless monitors or monitors that are not bright enough, not big enough or just play “don’t feel” right. Feeling underwhelmed by your tools can leave you wanting more. The average software engineer spends 2-6 hours a day coding. That doesn’t include the time you spend googling stuff.
I am sure you have heard the old adage; “less is more”. Well I am here to tell you that “More is more” and more is good! What I mean is that when you have a million things going on and when you have 100+ browser tabs open, you probably want to be able to switch contexts within seconds. If you find yourself tabbing around a lot, moving windows and apps from one place of your screen to the other… You probably do not have enough screen real-estate. Let us first determine what is valuable to you as a developer. Keep in mind that at the end of this read, I am going to make some recommendations on some monitors I use personally to great effect.
Yes, size can be pretty important. Monitor size is very useful when you want to “kind of multitask”. I say “kind of” because humans in general are terrible at multitasking. What I mean specifically is when you want some things running in the background. For example. I usually keep a music app open and/or minimized as well as my work Slack, a browser tab with just my email, a secondary chat service (i.e. Zoom, my work uses both). I also like to keep a terminal open as well as a my IDE and a dedicated Browser window with most of my tabs. So juggling all those things can be a bit tricky. A large monitor may simplify that. I prefer at least a 32 inch monitor, though I still use some 27 inch monitors.
If you have ever played video games or… you know… have lived in this decade, you may have come across the term “refresh rate”. Without going into too much detail, this number basically talks about how many times the screen updates to display it’s current state. I am sure you have encountered a monitor where it seemed like your mouse was staggering around, teleporting almost or your cursor felt unresponsive. Well, that is because your refresh rate is very low. A minimum refresh rate of at least 60hz is required for you to not notice that flickery laggy effect. A higher refresh rate is even better. Note that not all computers/laptops support all refresh rates. Be sure to find your model computer and find out what kind of refresh rate it can support.
Ultimately, you will chose a monitor that is reasonably affordable. If you are just starting out in web development, you might make due with just about anything you can get your hands on. I started out with 2 22 inch monitors and I thought I had discovered pure bliss… It wasn’t until I plugged in my first 4k monitor. Monitor price varies based on a number of features, some but not all include:
- Refresh Rate
- Panel Type (LED, OLED, IPS etc) and a few more
- Aspect Ratio (Wide, Ultra Wide)
- Resolution (HD, UHD, 4K, etc.) Refers to the number of Pixels the monitor can display. For example HD is basically 1080p or 1920×1080 pixels, where a 4k has a resolution of 3840×2160.
- Backlighting (Always get a backlit monitor)
- Options, Inputs etc, what types of things can you plug in and how many things can you plug in.
What will you use the monitor for? How much real-estate do you really need? Will you spend a lot, a little time on it? These are important questions to ask when considering a monitor purchase. Like I said, when I started out, I would just plug a small monitor into my laptop and it was usually enough for me. As I got further along in my career, I found that I had the capacity to manage more at once, and I learned what I could sort of leave in the background and what I needed to be in the forefront.
Once you have considered the above, it is time to go on a shopping spree. Look around, do some more research and try to figure out what is important for you. Here are some monitors I am currently using or have used in the past.
SAMSUNG UJ59 Series – 32 Inch UHD 4k Display
PROS: This display is excellent. It is large, it is bright. It is an LED monitor that supports 60hz refresh rate. And it is very reasonably priced for what it offers.
CONS: The fixed base and limited pivoting makes your desk setup somewhat limited. However, you can put it on something or if you get 2 or more of these it isn’t too much of a problem.
SAMSUNG S95UA – 49 inch Ultra wide display
I use this Bad boy for my work laptop along with the SAMSUNG UJ59. I can put 3 IDE windows side by side and pump up the font for great visibility. I thought I wouldn’t like the curving, but honestly I never notice it anymore.
- Ultra wide – excellent for stacking IDE windows side by side
- 120hz refresh – excellent!
- USB Hub, you plug in just about anything
- Massive resolution
- It is HEAVY! You need a sturdy desk and hope you don’t have to monkey with it too much.
- A bit pricey
- Ultra wide monitors are somewhat of a new thing but improving rapidly. You may find something much better in just 4-5 months.