I've never done the multiple monitor thing, but if I wound up with a 24" iMac, larger in size/resolution than anything I've ever known, I'll be okay with just that. It's only if I got a Mac mini would I have to look to third-party displays. But I will keep that/you in mind should it go that way. Thank you!
Every one of these models has their pros and cons. Tricky, sometimes. I can see the good, and the not-so-good, about each model/decision.
But, being completely honest/realistic...if $1,500 fell out of the sky this afternoon, to be used only for a new Mac, I'd be ordering one of those 24" iMacs (I believe I'd rather have 24" that never left my desk than 13" that barely did; I'm just not a "mobile" user...I don't travel, I don't work from my couch or remotely, etc. I sit at my desk, and have for 15+ years).
Yes, I'd spend another 2-7 weeks deciding/obsessing on the color...but that's another story.