To complement your laptop, you’re more productive and comfortable with a second monitor in your home-office. Your boss may provide a simple HDMI 1080p monitor at the office, but that doesn’t mean you need to buy the same at home.
If you often switch back-and-forth between the office and working from home, you know the challenges:
- Always bring (or forget!) your power adapter, and having to remove and plug it in
- Every time you move you have to connect your headset, mouse, keyboard etc…
- To have all your laptop’s ports filled up
- And to have to work in the cable-mess you call a desk.
What features should a monitor for home office work have?
1) Future-proof & practicality: why you should go for a USB-C monitor
Imagine this ultra-clean setup, where you come home and connect just one single cable to your laptop which:
- Delivers power to your laptop
- Sends out the audio & video signal to your monitor and/or connected speakers
- Allow for data transfer to/from USB devices (keyboard, mouse, headset, high quality webcam, external drives, usb-to-ethernet adapter…)
You can only achieve this with something called a USB-C monitor, as these monitors often support power delivery, have a built-in USB-hub and all of this goes through a single USB-C cable.
Most modern laptops have a USB Type-C port. This port can always transmit data, but in 95% of the cases it also carries Displayport functionality to transmit high-end video & audio. But a lesser known feature is that these ports also allow you to charge your laptop. Yes, even if you already have a separate power jack.
2) What screen size, resolution and refresh rate should my home-office monitor have?
Don’t be fooled: A Full-HD (1920 x 1080p pixels) screen doesn’t really cut it anymore. If you want to multitask comfortably, you’ll benefit a lot from higher resolutions which offer more screen real-estate. This means: how many windows can you open simultaneously? How much content can you fit on you screen? So try to look for a higher resolution screen that you can comfortably use at a 100% scale. This means that you won’t need to zoom in to keep things readable:
- A FHD monitor (1920 x 1080p) gives you only 2.073MP of real-estate space
- A QHD monitor (2560 x 1440p) alsmost doubles this and gives you 3.686MP
- A Widescreen QHD monitor (3440 x 1440p) gives you 4.954MP of real-estate (the sweet-spot for me, but more expensive)
- A 4K monitor (3840 x 2160p pixels) *can* offer 8.294MP of space, BUT keep these pitfalls in mind:
- It gets heavier for your CPU and GPU to work with this resolution, you will experience a slight performance drop if your PC isn’t very powerful.
- Don’t buy a 4K monitor of less than 27 inch: If you have to scale everything at 200%, you’ll end up with the same real-estate as a Full-HD monitor again… only sharper. Aim for 30 inch or above and you should be able to use it at 125 or even 100% scale. This depends on your eyesight and the distance to your screen.
So what about Refresh-rate?
For office work you will almost certainly not need a high refresh rate. A home-office monitor at 60hz is perfectly fine. Anything higher is nice to have if you plan on playing the occasional game, but never let a salesman tell you ‘you need’ that 144hz monitor.
3) Why you should prefer an IPS panel over Oled or TN for your home-office monitor
Luckily, today IPS-technology for monitors is pretty much the standard. They offer great color reproduction and excellent viewing angles. There are still some TN-panels available though. They’re not terrible, but their viewing angles are often relatively poor.
The other alternative is the upcoming OLED. But I won’t recommend an OLED panel when you plan on doing general office work. These panels are fantastic for consuming media or playing video-games, but are:
- likely to eventually burn in (or should I say burn-out) when they show static content like e-mails and spreadsheets all day.
- in general less bright than LED backlight displays; which makes them less interesting if your room has a lot of natural light coming in.
- way more expensive than regular IPS panels.
In conclusion: which monitor should you buy for your home-office?
I recently purchased a Lenovo Q24h, which you can see in the images. It’s a 24″ IPS monitor which It offers a QHD 2560 x 1440p resolution at 75hz. It comes with a USB-C connection which can deliver up to 80 watts of power (which is enough for my laptop), and sports 2 extra USB ports in the back. There’s also an extra HDMI and Displayport port and built-in speakers. The speakers are pretty crappy, but there’s also a typicle audio-out 3.5mm jack, to which I connected a high-quality 2.1 speakerset.
So, just one cable to my laptop:
- charges it, which allows me to leave the charger at work
- transfers audio and video to my monitor (and linking it to a 2.1 set)
- allows me to connect 2 extra USB-ports for my high-quality-webcam and/or to charge my smartphone.
Of course it’s always a matter of budget and personal preference. You could even use certain smartphones with these types of monitors to create your own Smartphone-PC using just one cable!
Here’s a handy link to a convenient overview of all the monitors which *should* support the above mentioned capabilities.
I hope the advice helps! Feel free to let me know what monitor you bought or plan on buying and why in the comments.