Matt, I obviously spend a lot of time on the computer. At one point I even tried a 17" laptop (technically a desktop replacement) for a full time computer. My preference is a laptop for travel but for day to day I use a desk computer with 2 large monitors. If all you are doing is responding to emails, looking at photos, then you could probably get by with a laptop but I pull together documents from a variety of sources, do document review and take notes on the other screen, pull into from websites, etc. I did get two very eco friendly monitors and I shut down the computer every night. So overall I think it depends on how you used your computer. I know I could have also had a docking station but my notebook is one of my back ups for what is on my main computer.
Since laptops have plenty of power and memory now, most people could just hook up a laptop to a larger monitor and a keyboard and mouse. You can find EnergyStar monitors, as Kevin said, so that's a pretty energy-efficient option. You can also raise up your laptop on a pedestal so the screen is more at eye level, then attach it to a secondary keypad and mouse. That's how my wife works, and it works great for her.
As far as the article, I would like to see something doing real-world comparisons of different company's machines (mostly because I am on a Mac and I want something else to brag about to PC users). I plugged in a laptop to a Kill-A-Watt machine (which plugs in between a gadget or appliance and the outlet and measures the energy draw of each component). Unless my Macbook was booting up or opening a new application, it used very little power, and when it was in sleep mode or closed but powered on, it used virtually no power.
I've personally done away with our home desktop computer. As Steve said, laptops these days are just as good, even for those hard core gamers out there. I use our laptop for things that require lots of typing (and occasional gaming), but for other casual stuff such as emails or web surfing I use a Xoom (Motorola's version of an IPad) which can stay on battery power for like 10 - 12 hours of constant use. Casual use of it lets the battery last about 3 - 4 days before needing a recharge.
Kevin, I need computers 24x7 because of my job. I prefer the laptop since it can do anything a desktop can do. In addition it is portable. It is small enough that I don't have to see an extra piece of equipment lying around.
I am old school I have all my desk top units custom built from a local computer store for me. Been doing it this way sense early 90's Currently now I run three monitors out of the unit I have in my office. Its great when I am doing mold reports and such as I do not have to keep changing the screen shots in order to do my work.
I own a few laptops as well. One for my energy audit work and one we use when we travel with the horses. But cannot wait to come back to the desktop unit. Monitors are all energy star rated. But I never turn off the computer at all. Have battery back up in case of power failure and when that happens after a short while the computer program does an auto shut down so not to drain the battery completely.