The act of running multiple monitors from a single computer was once reserved for diehard enthusiasts and IT professionals but a new article from The New York Times suggests that computer users are adopting multiple monitors at a quickening pace. Tech companies sold 179 million displays last year but only 130 million desktop computers which could be interpreted as “more monitors per desk”, according to Rhoda Alexander from IHS iSuppli.

The most obvious rationale for adding additional monitors is that it boosts productivity. A study by the University of Utah found that productivity among individuals working on editing tasks was higher with two monitors than with one. If nothing else, multiple monitors cut down on time spent toggling different windows on a single screen.

NEC Display noted that 30 to 40 percent of their corporate customers’ employees use more than one monitor, a figure that is up from just 1 percent four years ago.

Naturally, not everyone agrees that multiple monitor setups are a time-saver. Psychology professor David E. Meyer at the University of Michigan agrees with the logic behind toggling but points out that productivity can suffer when people are interrupted by scanning multiple displays rather than focusing on a single task in front of them.

As an advocate of multiple monitor setups, there’s never been a better time to add a second or third display to your workstation. Panel pricing and thickness continue to drop and there are more communications tools and news sites than ever. As a reviewer and news editor, I couldn’t imagine going back to a single display – it’d be like going from broadband to dial-up. For gamers, ATI and Nvidia now offer multi-monitor gaming for a more immersive experience, granted you have hardware that is powerful enough to support it.