You should buy an external monitor for your laptop. You can thank us later

Hellen Wadman

With working from home being the foreseeable norm for so many, there’s no reason to keep cramping yourself up on the couch with a laptop and pretending you’re getting work done efficiently. While laptops are incredibly convenient, for most of us they just aren’t enough to keep up with the […]

With working from home being the foreseeable norm for so many, there’s no reason to keep cramping yourself up on the couch with a laptop and pretending you’re getting work done efficiently. While laptops are incredibly convenient, for most of us they just aren’t enough to keep up with the demands of daily work. That’s why you need a multi-monitor setup, if you don’t have one already.

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Microsoft’s Research Center found that users can improve productivity between 9% to 50% by simply adding another monitor to their computing environment. Other studies cited in the New York Times suggest 20 to 30 percent productivity boosts, thanks to the ability to switch between applications quickly, view information and documents side-by-side, and segment the tasks you have at hand.

Not convinced by the data? Fast Company associate editor Lara Sorokanich swears by her setup. “After six months of squinting as I edited magazine layouts, I finally caved and got myself an external monitor,” she says. “I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say it’s been life-changing. Beyond just displaying all my work bigger, my digital workspace is now large enough to have multiple windows open at once, without constant toggling. My days are more efficient, my eyes are less tired, and my brain is finally staying on task,” she says.

If you’re looking to upgrade your workspace and add a monitor, here are a few options we’d recommend:

The splurge: Apple 27″ Thunderbolt Display

The crème de la crème of external monitors was sadly discontinued by Apple, but there are still refurbished options out there if you’re looking for the gigantic, sharp display that the Thunderbolt offers. If you want to splurge on a desktop that you can also use as a monitor, we recommend going all out on an iMac. As long as each iMac is directly connected to your computer using a ThunderBolt cable or Thunderbolt adapter, they can easily be used as an external monitor for your laptop, as well as a stand-alone computer.

The moderate pick: HP Business HD LCD Monitor

A few inches smaller than the traditional iMac, this 23.8″ monitor from HP is reliable, good-looking, and and still makes a big impact. This monitor provides great high-definition display, is easy on your wallet, and (bonus!) received an EPEAT Gold certification—recognizing the design’s reduced environmental impact.

The budget workhorse: LG 24″ HD FreeSync Monitor

This low-profile monitor from LG is perfect for a dual monitor setup, and costs just around $100. The monitor comes with an HDMI cord in the box, but if you’re looking for another connection for an additional monitor, a simple fix is connecting another screen with an HDMI to VGA adapter. This monitor is a great value and is sturdy enough for daily use, whether you’re editing or toggling between documents and video chats.

Looking for more recommendations? Check out our other handpicked suggestions.

Fast Company may receive revenue for some links to products on our site.

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