I’m a information technologist and work from my home office. I also work in a paperless office so almost all of my work tools are web based, so having a dual monitor setup adds greatly to my productivity.
Researchers at the University of Utah tested how quickly people performed tasks like editing a document and copying numbers between spreadsheets while using different computer configurations: one with an 18-inch monitor, one with a 24-inch monitor and with two 20-inch monitors. Their finding: People using the 24-inch screen completed the tasks 52% faster than people who used the 18-inch monitor; people who used the two 20-inch monitors were 44% faster than those with the 18-inch ones. There is an upper limit, however: Productivity dropped off again when people used a 26-inch screen. (The order of the tasks and the order of computer configurations were assigned randomly.) (via wsj)
My usual M.O. is to have Outlook open on one screen while I’m tracking bug reports in Firefox on the other. For me the major benefit to having multiple displays is having access to all my information at one glance. Now in this case bigger is better, so I would suggest getting the biggest display you can afford. At the moment I’m rocking two 19″ monitors but plan on upgrading to two 23″ Cinema Displays…just as soon as my wife lets me.
I’ve been pushing the concept of the two monitor *minimum* for a while now. At Mahalo the least amount of real estate you can have is two 24″ monitors, and we’re starting to push folks to three monitors (one 30 inch Dell and two 24 “wing men”). (via calacanis)
On a time wasting, ADD note, with multiple monitors you can have your blog editor open on one screen while at the same time watching a video in iTunes on the other. The potential for marvelous sensory overload is almost unlimited.