On a fairly low budget for 2 monitors and have been looking at the Dell 1909W. Dont quite know what to look for when buying monitors, below is the spec. The contrast ratio is seems quite low compared to other i have seen.
1000:1 is for static contrast ratio which is the true measure for contrast. The higher numbers you see on monitors like 20,000:1 or 1,000,000:1 is for dynamic contrast ratio which is more or less total BS, but it allows companies to state really high numbers and the average (dumbass) consumer who does not know any better will automatically think "higher is better".
All TN and IPS panel monitors have stated static contrast ratios of 1000:1 and most PVA panel monitors have stated static contrast ratios of up to 3000:1. Even those numbers can be a bit exaggerated; especially for TN panel monitors. Yeah, yeah, I know... TN, IPS, PVA... this is going a bit above your head. Let's just say based on your low budget you will be looking at TN panel monitors and leave it at that.
To put it in a nutshell, dynamic contrast (when enabled) will increase and decrease the contrast of the monitor within a certain range which is more or less controlled by that static contrast ratio. The range is based on the dynamic contrast level you set the monitor to.
For example, on a 50,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio monitor there may be 5 levels to set the dynamic contrast ratio to which ranges between:
1 to 10,000
10,001 to 20,000
20,001 to 30,000
30,001 to 40,000
40,001 to 50,000
You will not get the full 50,000:1 in one shot. Also, as the contrast changes, so does the brightness to a certain degree. I find this immensely annoying. My HDTV has dynamic contrast ratio and so does one of my LCD monitors. I switch off dynamic contrast. Some people may like it, but I certainly do not.
Also, the specs do not say all about a monitor because specs can lie. You need to read up on any user reviews that you can find for the monitors you are interested in buying to find out what people think about. Unfortunate, I am not very knowledgeable about what monitors are good below 1920 x 1200 resolution.