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The Simplest Solution: Buy a Bigger Monitor

One way to get more display space is to buy a bigger monitor. Inarguably, this is the simplest solution: Buy new monitor, connect new monitor.

Prices have certainly come down. New 17-inch CRTs are selling for less than $150 or even $100, 19-inchers in the $150–250 range, and 21-inchers in the $200–500 range...and old-but-still-working CRTs can be found for $10 or $20 dollars at yard sales—or even free by the side of the road.

Flat-panel LCDs—like what notebook computers use—have come down in price and up in size in the past few years; a 19-inch LCD can be found in the low $200 range, and 21-inchers starting around $400. (Prices come from quick checks on Newegg.com.)

On the other hand, a good 20- or 21-inch LCD can run $600 to more than $1,000. As a friend advised me recently, "If you stare at that screen all day, you’ll want the best monitor you can afford. Your eyes will thank you."

You may even already have a good, biggish LCD—but want still more screen turf—and don’t want to throw away your existing investment. A second similar-sized LCD (and possibly a new video card—see below) may be cheaper than a bigger LCD, or give you significantly more display space. Other possible reasons you may want/need a better and therefore more expensive monitor include doing graphic design/production, video editing, watching DVDs or other high-quality video, or gaming.

Were money no object, I’d order that big, high-quality flat screen tomorrow. I’m not prepared to do that quite yet. I’m not even ready to compromise with a lower-end 19-inch LCD, although that’s tempting. So I’ve been pursuing alternate approaches—with, as you’ll see, mixed results.

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