Monitors for Medical Transcription - dummies

Monitors for Medical Transcription

By Anne Martinez

When monitor shopping for your medical transcription work, the sheer amount of variables can be daunting; however, for those of you who aren’t video editors or big-time gamers, most of them aren’t important. Here are the key things to pay attention to:

  • Connection type: The monitor connection type must be the same as the graphics port on your computer. DVI is the current standard, but if you have an older desktop or laptop it may only have a connection for a VGA monitor. It doesn’t really matter what the acronyms mean, only that the monitor and the port you plug it into share the same one.

  • Size: Monitor size is measured diagonally and runs from 15 to 30 inches. Many MTs find 17 to 22 inches a good size. After a certain point, bigger can actually become a drawback unless you have a particular need for it.

    Larger monitors cost more and take up more desk space. They also stretch information all the way across the screen, so you’ll have to constantly resize document windows to get a comfortable reading width. If your goal is to view multiple documents or program windows simultaneously, two smaller monitors tends to be a better solution than one huge one.

    Using two monitors instead of one is a big productivity booster. The best part: It’s really easy to set up.

  • Resolution: Resolution defines how many pixels can be displayed on a screen. For example, a monitor with 1920 x 1080 resolution can display 1920 pixels across and 1080 from top to bottom. The higher the resolution, the more information can be displayed on the screen.

    That does come with a tradeoff; although the objects on the screen will be sharp, they’ll be smaller, which can contribute to eye strain.

  • Adjustable base: Pick a monitor that allows you to easily tilt and swivel the screen. It’ surprising how many monitors lack this basic but crucial feature. Height adjustability is a big plus, though you can accomplish the same thing with a thick book if necessary.

  • Additional niceties:

    • Monitors with built-in speakers can save desk space and reduce cable clutter. They’re not going to offer symphony sound quality, but neither do standard desktop speakers. Mostly you’ll be using headphones anyway.

    • Some monitors come with additional USB ports built in. If you’ve already got plenty, don’t worry about it, but if you’re short, it’s an easy way to get more.

What to watch out for when you’re monitor shopping:

  • Avoid screens with a glossy finish; they make colors look sharper but add a lot of glare. Matte-finish screens are a lot gentler on your eyes.

  • Be careful not to buy a wide-screen monitor by mistake. Many people don’t realize that the increased width comes with decreased height. Wide screens are good for watching videos and graphics but not so good when it comes to working with documents, because the vertical space is shorter, making less of the document visible at once.