I am undecided on whether to get an LCD TV or monitor. I plan to use it to watch TV as well as a monitor for my computer and plug in my gaming console into it... Which would be best to buy? and what 24/26" TV/Monitor would you recommend?
24-26" monitor or tv?
Do some research and try to find out , If 24-26" monitor + TV-tuner is cheaper or more expensive than a TV.
TVs tend to have slower reaction, less contrast and less resolution than monitors, if they have the same price range. Good quality TVs are usually much more expensive than good quality monitors. But as I wrote before, add the price of a good TV tuner to the monitor price and do some comparing.
TVs have slower response time because they are mostly PVA panels. Better color and viewing angle than cheap TN monitors (90% of all consumer level monitors are all TN) but PVA monitors would have something like 6ms - 8ms which is good enough. Response time is really really overrated because thats the only thing TN panels are better at so manufacturers really push this but anything under 10ms is good for gaming.
As for contrast ratio. Everything LCD is the same. 1000:1 or it could be less of course. But the liquid crystal can only block out so much backlight. Additional contrast is done by turning off the backlight. This is such a bad technology, it only cause dimming of the entire screen which can drown out all the bright things. It also flickers the backlight when scenes change really fast. Don't use dynamic contrast.
I would say get a TV but I don't think they make TVs in the 24" area. Your best bet would be around a 27" TV. When LCDs get big you really need good viewing angle since a TN panel that big would show major color distortion when you look at the edges even if you are sitting infront of it. Most TVs out support 1920x1080 which is good as any monitor these days. The 2560x1600 monitors are probably out of your price range.
Problem with 27" tv is that you're not going to get 1080p resolution with it. There are 32" tv's with that resolution, possibly in the future smaller ones will appear. Price is about $5000. For that kind of money you can pretty much buy a 25" monitor with better resolutions, but that's probably too small for console gaming.