I’ve long believed that, when it comes to computers, the parts you interact with are critically important.  Sure, a fast CPU and a ridiculously large hard drive are nice.  But even if you have the world’s fastest computer, your experience will still feel crappy if you’re using a blurry old CRT screen and a $10 bargain bin keyboard and mouse.

In the spirit of this, I’m always on the lookout for new gadgets and neat things that will make my computing experience better, more interesting, or just different.  Most things I just look at, think to myself “that’d be neat, but I don’t really need it,” and move on.

Every few months, though, I go off the deep end and scour the Internet looking for the next wonderful thing that will transform my computing experience entirely.  Most of the time there’s something “just over the horizon” that has the potential to be truly awesome, but if I want something today I have to settle for a minor incremental improvement instead of a revolution.  Sometimes I’m even able to resist buying the new “slightly better” gadget and wait.  Sometimes I’m not.

This time though, I didn’t have to.  I managed to find something that was:

  • Not just an internal piece of hardware that I’d never know I’d installed if I didn’t put it there myself
  • Actually related to the interface of my computer – that is, the entire look and feel experience
  • A big, big change
  • Something I’d wanted for a long time, but just hadn’t been practical

So I crunched some numbers and came up with a plan:

Step one:  New video card.

I’ll admit that the video card and monitor setup I already had was more than adequate for anything I did with my computer.  I had two good monitors and a really nice video card.  I already played all my games on max settings.  To be truly honest, I’d been playing all my games on max settings before I got that card too, but that’s neither here nor there.  This plan required a new, faster video card, so I got one.

Step two:  New monitors.

This is where the video card comes in.  Step two is three shiny new tilt-and-swivel monitors.  Now, a lot of people have two-monitor setups, and three monitors are becoming more common as well for really busy people, so this in itself is no big deal.  The big deal for me was this next bit:

Three monitors in portrait mode makes for an awesome gaming experience:

As an added benefit, I’ve found that swapping the central monitor back to landscape orientation and leaving the others in portrait mode is really good for productivity.  The vertical screens are really good for reading documents and long web pages, and the central monitor is good for more most other computer tasks. (See?  It’s practical, too!)

So I’ll leave you with this thought:  How do you feel about your keyboard, mouse, and monitor(s)?  Are they helping you get things done, or getting in the way of your computer experience?