As appraisers, we are often reviewing MLS listings, tax data, order sheets, appraisal software, zoning information, surveys, deeds, and sale contracts – all while typing an appraisal. The less we have to take our fingers off the keyboard to use the mouse, the faster we are able to get the report out the door. Minimizing, maximizing, and restoring windows of content to check a figure on another screen takes time. Having multiple windows open and visible without any maneuvering is so basic to increasing productivity.
Arranging the windows can be a chore. Windows 10 includes a feature to anchor applications. Anchoring is the process of dragging an application to a point on the screen; usually the top left corner and releasing it to make the program snap to the space and maximize the content. So naturally, the more screens you have, the faster it is to maximize several windows of content with no overlap. There are a lot of options for multiple monitors. I have tried several. My office computer has six 21″ monitors on a stock trader’s mount all in landscape (horizontal) orientation. At home, I recently purchased three 27″ portrait (vertical) oriented monitors also on a stock trader’s mounting stand.
While Windows 10 does have ways to tile applications on a single monitor, none work as well as separate monitors. However, if you’re resigned to using a large monitor or flat screen TV, you will want software to split it up so that you can easily anchor your applications. For example, you might want to take a 55″ TV and split it into as many as nine panels emulating nine separate monitors. I have tried several applications for this including “Actual Multiple Monitors” (AMM), “Display Fusion” and “AquaSnap.” They all offer free trials and can all be purchased for under $25. I liked AMM the best. Even with multiple monitors, I use AMM software for more subdivisions.
Appraisal is one of the few industries left that still use legal size paper. Even with my six landscape monitors at work, I quickly found out that a portrait-oriented monitor was key because I could view an entire 8½” x 14” page with no scrolling. Having a mix of portrait and landscape monitors is not a bad idea since we often work with horizontal content too, such as tax maps. Vision is also a factor. The average appraiser is 55 years old and probably wears reading glasses. Taking these variables into account, I was determined that my next purchase would include at least two large portrait-oriented monitors, and perhaps some landscaped ones as well. In the end, I went all vertical and used the AMM software to carve out some landscape-oriented panels.
Determining what to buy was next. There is no reason why you cannot mix and match, but if you care about a consistent look (both the screen content and the screen itself) using a single video card with multiple outputs and identical monitors is always a nice way to go. Appraisers don’t do heavy graphics, so a 512mb card is probably fine for two or three monitors. You might also want a 1gb card for four or more monitors. Cards that are 2gb won’t hurt, but they are most likely overkill for appraisers unless they are also using it for personal use such as gaming. Vision Tek offers the widest array of multiple monitor video cards, but NVidia and AMD both have good options too.
When choosing a monitor, sharpness matters. Remember, we are staring at fine text all day long, so the higher the resolution – the better on your eyes. Also try to find a monitor with thin borders so that the separate monitors can come as close as possible to a single large screen.
For stands and mounts, Vivo has a wide display of options at https://vivo-us.com. I have a STAND-V003FG at home and a STAND-V006F at work. If you want to mix portrait and landscape-orientations you can try a STAND-V004Z.
Try out some of these suggestions and your productivity is likely to soar. Happy viewing.