Geeks2U Promise
We guarantee you'll love our fast, friendly service - or we'll refund your money.  
133,572 Happy Customers & Counting
Need tech support?
1300 769 448
Extended hours, 7 days a week
Home  /  geekspeak  /  How Many Screens Is Too Many?

How Many Screens Is Too Many?

I can remember my first steps with computing rather well; a single vibrantly green display screen that held me mystified. This, I felt sure, was the future, and it seemed like everyone agreed. That was a fairly long time ago, though, and the one thing that I wouldn’t have predicted at that point was that the day would come when a single screen would scarcely be enough to hold my attention.

At any given time, I’ve typically got a large desktop display in front of me, with a smaller secondary monitor to the side. On the other side of the larger monitor there’s typically a tablet — sometimes more than one — and the screen on my smartphone is never that far away. Sometimes they’re for productivity purposes, and sometimes rather markedly not so.

While as a technology writer I’ve perhaps got a little more exposure to this kind of thing than some people, it turns out that what I do is rapidly becoming the norm. Research from Google into how people use multi-screened devices was recently released (navigating the new multi-screen world), discussing how people use multiple devices to complete tasks. Google’s research broke the usage up into two modes; sequential and simultaneous. I’m guilty of both.

Sequential use, as the name suggests, is where you start a piece of work on one device, and transfer to another. With tools like Dropbox and Evernote, I’ve certainly started writing on one device before having left my office, and then done light work on it via tablet or smartphone, before finishing it off on a laptop when I’m out at a work site. But this isn’t much of a rarity; Google’s research suggested that 90 per cent of people move between devices to accomplish a goal.

It’s slightly less common to use devices simultaneously, and Google’s research suggests it’s more a factor of relaxation time; having a tablet on your lap to keep an eye on your Twitter feed while watching a TV program, or perhaps to play a game during a boring ad break. 77 per cent of those Google surveyed were simultaneous multi-screen users.

Google’s focus for the research is into how it can use it to sell more advertising; that’s not surprising, given Google (despite its many products) is still fundamentally an advertising company. But what does it mean for you or me? I’m not surprised that the model for switching between devices is a popular one, because it’s ultimately a very productive one. That doesn’t mean, however, that all simultaneous usage is non-productive usage, either; I’ve been known to flick less essential work — an email feed, or an updating web page that I need to keep an eye on from time to time — to a secondary screen while I work. I’m simultaneously using both, but it’s adding to my productivity rather than splitting it, because the less critical work doesn’t involve switching windows to check details; all I need to do is avert my gaze for a second or two.


Recent News

This week, Apple released an update to its macOS operating system to macOS Big Sur 11.5.1. Unusually for Apple, it detailed exactly what kind of security issue it relates to. Specifically, it patches a hole that would allow attackers to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges. If that sounds like so much techno-mumbo-jumbo to you,

I’ve not had a standard landline in my home for quite some time now. Partly that was because I very much did switch over to using my smartphone a great deal more over time. Mostly, however, it was because getting rid of it was one of the simplest ways to cut off those interminable “support

Social media can be a huge force for change, and in these times where many of us are bouncing in and out of lockdowns, also a vital lifeline for communication on everything from important matters to the wildly trivial. We’re all allowed our personal obsessions, after all. However, many of us don’t think about the

Microsoft recently released its first public-facing beta version of the Windows 11 operating system that it will ship later this year. You’ve got to be signed up to its Windows Insider program to get it – and be willing to accept a little risk in terms of unstable operating systems – but then this is

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Learn about the precautions we are taking and our new contactless pick-up and remote service options. Read More
Get help setting up your home office or homework area today. Learn More