If you work with graphics or images, the concept behind the Wacom Cintiq series seems like a no-brainer: Combine a display with a pressure-sensitive tablet so that you can directly edit vector art, retouch images, paint, produce video special effects, and so on. True, tablets aren't for everyone. If you work with a tablet now, you'll probably find a Cintiq even more fluid and powerful. But unless you're backed by a deep pocket or generous business budget, the price will sting; for example, the Cintiq 12WX costs about 50 percent more than a 6x8-inch Intuous3 plus a typical 22-inch monitor.
The series comes in three sizes: the 12.1-inch 12WX, the 20.1-inch 20WSX, and the 21.3-inch 21UX. The "W" in the product names indicates "wide screen"; the 12WX and 20WSX both have 16:10 aspect ratios compared with the 21UX's 4:3.
I have to say, I found the initial setup sufficiently frustrating and time-consuming that I was convinced I was going to hate the Cintiq. Granted, I have a cluttered, cable-infested workspace. But behind the 12WX's sleek gray face lies a bulky AC adapter brick plus a relatively large breakout box. There's never a good place for either of these.
The display has a pull-out brace on its lower half that allows you to stand it from near vertical to a 25-degree angle from your desktop (or completely flat, with the stand tucked in). When using it as a second--or perhaps third--passive display, it will likely sit to the side of your primary monitor, and when using it as a tablet, you pull it forward either onto the desk in front of your primary display or onto your lap. There's no cable management, however, so moving it back to its position on the side requires annoying (and in my office, potentially dangerous) cable shoving to keep the stand from resting on it and leaving the display askew.
On one hand, it worked quite nicely perched on the desk in front of my mammoth CRT, though that required pushing the keyboard off to the side, within reach for keyboard shortcuts. It didn't function quite so well on my lap, however. Without the ability to adjust the angle it from the top (to tilt it toward me), I couldn't find a comfortable position in which to work for more than a few minutes.