I saw the HP w2408h in person at MicroCenter, and I decided this was the monitor for me. It looked great in the store - both in terms of physical appearance and picture quality. HP makes some very attractive, high quality stuff.
My old monitor was a 19" CRT, but all monitors these days are widescreen, including PC monitors. The CRT had gotten old and didn't have the picture quality of the new flat screen monitors so I decided to make the move. The w2408h is a very good size, and is available at the fair price of $349. It's not a great deal and I wouldn't recommend it as a value buy, but it is a good purchase.
I got mine even though my graphics card only has a DVI input, no HDMI input, and the w2408h only comes with an HDMI cable. However HDMI-to-DVI adapters are available pretty cheap (don't bother to get the expensive Monster ones), and using an adapter doesn't affect the picture quality.
The monitor offers a native resolution of 1920x1200, and it has vibrant colors. I love the resolution - it really makes a difference from my CRT monitor's resolution of 1024x768. The only problem with higher resolutions is that the text is smaller, even with the larger screen size. That took a little while to get used to, but it's worth it for the higher resolution. And you can adjust your font size settings for most programs, or even adjust your DPI setting in your OS to affect everything (although I wouldn't recommend that as it might cause some minor graphics issues - I tried it but went back to the normal setting).
When it comes to widescreen monitors I recommend purchasing at least a 19", and preferably 22". A 19" widescreen has the same total viewing area as a 16.9" standard 4:3 fullscreen monitor, and a 22" widescreen is the equivalent of a 19.6" fullscreen. A 22" will also have a significantly improved native resolution - 19" screens have native resolutions of 1280x1024, while 22" screens have native resolutions of 1680x1050. That's a big jump, and 1680x1050 is a very high quality resolution.
The most a normal person can probably afford is a 24", which will get you a native resolution of 1920x1200. That's a nice upgrade over 1680x1050, but not a huge upgrade. Though I'm happy with my 24", I'd say 22" screens actually offer the best price point for value shoppers.
In order to improve on a 1920x1200 resolution, you have to go all the way up to 30" - and those are very expensive, probably costing you close to or more than a full $1,000. Obviously only those with loads of spare cash could afford that. Buying a new monitor then really boils down to getting one in the 19"-24" range - a monitor in the 24+" to under 30" range isn't all that advisable because it doesn't offer an increase in resolution. So if you want a bargain, look for a 19"; if you want a great value, look for a 22"; and if you want high end (but not super expensive), get a 24".