Heavy Excel user ISO work-from-home setup
October 12, 2013 7:31 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for recommendations on a home-office setup that will eliminate the need for going into the office on weekends.

My home computer is a bare-bones HP Envy laptop, which just doesn't cut it compared to my desktop + dual-monitor setup at work. Work that I try to do with my laptop ends up taking far longer than it should / would if I was at the office. I end up going into the office on weekends because of this. I'd like to stop.

I'm working on a budget of $700. The most important thing for me is duplicating the screen real estate of my dual-monitor setup, hopefully with a single widescreen for space-saving purposes. I then need a basic desktop machine that can handle bloated Excel sheets and general MS Office work, while logged into my company's remote access applications. The PC will not be used for gaming or heavy video work or anything.

So! (1) widescreen monitor recommendations and (2) limited purpose desktop machine recommendations.

Thoughts, greeners?
posted by undercoverhuwaaah to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A 24" monitor, not aimed at photography or gaming can be hand for < $300. And will likely give you

Dell monitors are nice (Don't get the gaming ones, U2410 is the cheapy ones we have the at the office), but the company is the epitome of dysfunctional and evil. But they'd be able to solve your problem pretty well. Just hope you never need support.

I would recommend going to NewEgg, but that's a lot more digging around and leg work. And again, support is pretty much a lost cause.
posted by DigDoug at 7:39 AM on October 12, 2013

YMMV, but I have found generally that one giant monitor is no replacement for several small ones. There are apps that will help with window-splitting, and Excel can do some of that itself, but it is just... not the same? And that's a giant monitor; if you're used to having two 22" monitors or something, then just one, unless you go over 30", is not going to come anywhere close to the same number of square inches (or pixels).

That said, for spreadsheets you can probably afford to cheap out on the monitor a bit, and Amazon seems to have 22-inchers for not just under $300 but under $150, so double that and you've got $400 left. That... might be cutting it just a little bit fine, because dual monitors may require putting in another graphics card. So I'd probably start with buying one monitor and an external keyboard and mouse and try attaching those to the laptop and see how you feel about it with the extra screen space. Also, how old is the laptop? The Envy line is definitely not HP's lowest-end stuff and should probably, at least power-wise, be able to handle most spreadsheets a desktop can handle, if it's plugged in with the settings turned up to full.
posted by Sequence at 7:50 AM on October 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

What exactly about your home setup makes things take longer? Does it actually take more time, or is the different workflow just less comfortable?
posted by gjc at 12:08 PM on October 12, 2013

I agree that two monitors is better than one big one.
posted by radioamy at 12:26 PM on October 12, 2013

First off, your job should be paying for this.

Second, for $700 I'd go with something like:
posted by rhizome at 12:33 PM on October 12, 2013

Maybe consider seeing if you have a local buy sell trade Facebook page, or Freecycle group. Or your local thrift store. People upgrade monitors constantly. You can post that you want to buy a monitor and just see what happens. You'd be surprised at how many people keep them around because they don't know what to do with them, or they're waiting for an electronics recycling day, etc. It's alarming how many working flat screen monitors just get pitched in some communities.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 4:00 AM on October 13, 2013

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