You can't run 1280x1024 on a widescreen monitor, there aren't enough vertical pixels. They're 1440x900, so the best you're going to get is 1024x768 or 1152x864 (which some games don't support). I recommend bumping up to a 20" WS so that you get 1680x1050, which is good for 1280x1024 as well.
I have the Viewsonic 19" widescreen with the same 1440x900 res and it games just fine. I've recently been playing Dungeon Siege 2 online with a friend at 1280x1024 and it looks just fine, nothing is askew. Check out http://www.widescreengamingforum.com/ they have a lot of answers along with fixes for some games that don't quite support widescreen formats.
I hug my widescreen monitor every night before I go to sleep.