Everyone is all a-flutter about the study (commissioned by Apple, reported here in Computerworld) that found that 30-inch monitors make users more effective.
Some people doubt the validity, but I don't doubt it at all.
Have you ever walked onto the trading desk of any financial services firm? Four flat screens per person is considered a normal workstation. Six isn't unusual. I was at one of our customer sites recently, and many traders had eight monitors (two rows of 4). The reason? It makes them more productive. It puts more information in front of their eyes rather than behind other windows. It allows the users to multitask.
I only use a paltry two-monitor set up, but I can tell you that adding that 2nd monitor had a huge effect on my productivity.
I'm always amazed when I walk through Microsoft's San Francisco office and I don't see two monitors on every desk--I know Scoble used to harangue management to give 2 monitors to employees, but it hasn't happened yet.
Now, the funny thing about Apple's study is that they didn't study increasing screen real estate in general--they studied the effect of having a $2,000 30-inch Apple Cinema HD Display. Granted, these are beautiful monitors.
But: pssst! Here's a secret: You don't need one! Buy a second 17" display, and see how much you like it.
Photo credit: kinderkram