Mar 24, 2020
Nowadays it is becoming more normal to work from home, remote working makes it easier to reconcile with family life and allows you to remain productive even when you feel under the weather.
But lots of people ask: What do we need at home to be as productive as in the office?
Many companies give laptops to their employees so they can still work from their own home. This is useful for both employer and employee since a company that allows its staff to work remotely is much more attractive than one that prohibits it.
Once we have a laptop, we have to start thinking about the screens. Several studies show how beneficial it is for people who work with computers to have two screens since it allows them to work on several tasks at the same time and thus increase productivity.
In addition, more and more people are going for comfort, buying additional equipment such as keyboards, mice and headphones with a microphone that allow them to attend meetings.
Today I will go through what you will need to know to set up a two-monitor workstation that is powered through a work laptop. For this blog post, we will be setting up the following equipment:
- Two screen
How can we connect all this to our computer? First, we have to see what connections our laptop has, before buying peripherals or monitors let's be sure that our machine can support it. On the sides of the computer, we have several ports that will serve to connect the different devices to the computer.
This port should be familiar to everyone. It is the most used port and it is one of the most versatile. In these ports, we can connect all kinds of peripherals. If we want to connect a keyboard, mouse and headphones, the fastest and safest way is to use this port.
USB-C is a port that has become very fashionable in recent years. Increasingly, the phones we use have this port to charge and Apple has started using USB-C as the only port to charge and connect anything that we need in it.
The following are the common ports used to connect monitors. We are seeing a massive decline in using VGA for laptops, whilst at the same time, DisplayPort is becoming increasingly popular. Although, the king, for now, is HDMI.
For our setup, we would need 3 USB-A ports and two of the above display ports, depending on the screens we have. You will find generally there will be enough USB-A ports integrated with newer laptops, but it is much more difficult to find one with enough display ports to connect to two screens at the same time.
So how can we have the setup we want?
The solution is provided by Thunderbolt 3 ports and Docks.
Thunderbolt is a name that Intel gave to a high-speed connector that supports different protocols and that allows it to send both video and audio signals as well as the signals that the keyboard and mouse send to the computer.
This thunderbolt has had several ports assigned over the years, but in 2015 it was announced the Thunderbolt 3 will use a USB-C port to transmit information.
This opens questions for us. Do all USB-C support video and audio signals? Are all USB-C supported by the Thunderbolt 3? Unfortunately, the short answer is no. It is likely that if the computer you have was manufactured before 2016, it's USB-C (if it has one) only supports the USB protocol, so you could connect peripherals but not the monitors.
So how can we know if our laptop has one of these Thunderbolt 3 ports?
In some laptops next to the USB-C port, there is a lightning symbol if the port supports thunderbolt 3. If your computer does not have any symbol, the easiest way to discover it is to search for the brand of your computer in Google and find the specifications of the laptop you have.
How can you connect the screens and peripherals?
Assuming we have at least 1 Thunderbolt 3 port on our computer we can use a Dock. The Dock allows us to connect all kinds of devices to it and we can receive all the information from the different devices on our computer with only one Thunderbolt 3 cable.
This is an image of a Lenovo dock.
As you can see this device has 4 USB ports, 2 DisplayPort and an HDMI. For the standard two-screen setup this device is ideal. We can connect the peripherals to the different USB-A ports and the two screens using the 2 DisplayPort and using a DisplayPort and an HDMI (We have to carefully read the specifications of the device before we buy it since many of them have more than two ports to connect monitors but they only support 2).
We now only need our keyboard, mouse and headphones to be connected through USB ports and that the monitors have a DisplayPort (at least one of them) and HDMI.
The different peripherals and monitors will be connected to our dock and from the dock, we will connect the thunderbolt 3 to the laptop allowing us to have everything functional with a single cable.
If you are tired of desktop computers, this setup can satisfy all your needs.
I hope you liked the post, put in the comments if you want us to write another post about possible setups that may be useful for you.