We are big believers in investing time and money into tools that you interact with frequently over your day. For us, that’s our office chairs (although we have tried to get people out of them with standing work stations), keyboards (let us know if you find a great deal on a decent mechanical keyboard), and monitors (we chart and go through a lot of medical data in a day). In this (delayed) post in our #TuesdayTechTips series, we'll chat about monitors.
If you spend all day staring at a monitor, we strongly believe that it’s worth getting one suitable for your needs. Chefs take care of their knives, surgeons have fancy spider robots, family doctors - we probably use a computer more than any other tool.
In order to pick the right one for us, we set out with several parameters:
- Size - The bigger the better. We work with multiple windows all the time. It’s much more efficient to lay everything out side by side on a screen than constantly flipping back and forth between windows
- Text clarity - We spend a lot of time reading patient reports and keeping up to date on the medical issues. Having used a variety of TN, IPS, and IPS-like panels in the past, we wanted an IPS or IPS-like panel for better looking text.
- Viewing angle - Surprise, patients want to see their results too.
- Cost - Visitors often remark how we have so many computers , so the cost per unit becomes an issue (for the record, the ratio of monitors to staff is greater than 2:1)
To satisfy these parameters, we decided to experiment with panels sourced directly from Korea that do not have the bell and whistles of typical retail monitors. Much has been written about these monitors and you can read all about it here and here.
We started by purchasing four different models from Ebay and 2560x1440monitor.com and compared them over several months. We ended up choosing the X-Star DP2710LED PLS. It uses a panel built by Samsung based on PLS technology. Most of our units were purchased from this seller. Shipping to us in Toronto was ridiculously quick. The units were reasonably priced and we saved about 15-40% per monitor when compared to standard retail offerings. We ended up with 27 of these monitors.
There are limitations and downsides though:
- Some of the panels have 2-3 dead pixels. It’s not an issue for us at our clinic since all the work stations are shared and doctors move fluidly from one station to the next. No one is staring at the same monitor all day. Dead pixels are annoying with movies and graphics work, but are not a big issue when working with text.
- The built in stand is horrible. It wobbles and the monitor feels like it is going to tip over. This was not an issue for us since we mounted all our monitors on the wall or on swing arms to save desk space. The stand can be easily removed.
- All the panels use DVI Dual Link. Because of the resolution (2560x1440) that we are running, we had to upgrade all the graphics cards on our client machines.
Given these limitations, we don’t think the monitors are suitable for everyone. But if the limitations have little effect on your work, we think they are a great choice for a clinic or office.
We'll be doing it again next time for sure, although we might upgrade to these 40" 4K (3840x2160) beauties next time (we're testing one out at home right now).