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The 12 biggest technology myths

Find out the truth behind tech's tallest tales

The internet is a breeding ground for lies, half-truths, and misinformation, especially when it comes to technology. We've dug up some of the web's most notorious nuggets of conventional wisdom to see which hold up to scrutiny and which are merely urban legends.

Inkjet printers are much more expensive than laser printers

To figure out how much a printer's consumables will cost you over time, you take the price of the ink or toner cartridge and divide by the estimated page yield per cartridge, for your cost per page. Traditionally, laser printers have had a higher initial purchase price, which was balanced by their lower cost per page versus inkjet printers.

However, as inkjet printer manufacturers began to release more efficient models (ones with separate ink tanks for each colour, or higher-yield cartridge options), the cost-per-page gap has closed dramatically.

Keep in mind that the inkjet printers you see going cheap in or included with laptop purchases generally aren't the type that can hang with a laser printer in speed and costs. Instead, you'll end up paying more in the long run via expensive, low-yield ink cartridges - to the point where it can even be cheaper to buy a new printer than to refill the ink in your old one.

Warning: 4, Outrageous

People with more monitor space are more productive

Begging your boss for an extra display at work? You might sell her on the idea if you tell her that you'd be 30 to 50 percent more productive than you are on your single 18in display. At least, that's what a 2008 study from the University of Utah (commissioned by NEC, mind you) found for text and spreadsheet tasks.

NEC, naturally, was quick to trumpet the results as a way to move more of its widescreen displays. However, the study also found a point of diminishing returns. Productivity gains fall in a bell-curve distribution once you hit a certain amount of screen space. For a single-monitor setup, over 26in is too much, while dual-display gains top out at 22in.

In addition, the pattern of the results implies that while a second monitor can make improve your productivity, don't even think about adding a third. Interestingly, users' reported preference did not predict their performance - that is, the setup they liked wasn't necessarily the one they worked best with.

So think about what you'd be using that second display for. The University of Utah study took place in a controlled environment, where the subjects did nothing but the text and spreadsheet tasks they were assigned. If that sounds like your office, you'll prob­­ably do great with a second monitor.

If you're planning on using that second display for email, Twitter or other internet-related distractions, however, you're probably going to end up being less productive overall. (I certainly am.)

Warning: 2, Mostly true

NEXT PAGE: Refilled ink cartridges will ruin your printer

  1. The truth behind tech's tallest tales
  2. The smartphone grip of death
  3. Expensive HDMI cables
  4. LCDs are better than plasmas?
  5. Are inkjets more expensive than laser printers?
  6. Refilled ink cartridges will ruin your printer
  7. Is IE less secure?
  8. You're safe if you visit only family sites
  9. You probably know this, but...


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