Well, the contrast ratio itself is the difference between the brightest color and the darkest color that a monitor can display. A higher contrast ratio is always desired.
Disclaimer: There is no established method for measuring the contrast ratio that is defined by a standards organization. Therefore, you cannot exactly compare the published results from one manufacturer against another to figure out which is better.
Static contrast ratio is the better one to consider, but dynamic contrast ratio gets pushed by mfg's mostly because it's a higher number and numbers sell.
Check out this guide, for some more information. Rather than simply regurgitating what it said, I just linked it here; The Contrast Ratio Game - Playing with Numbers: TV Contrast Ratio Explained
From a performance standpoint, I would look at an IPS flat panel. The Dell U2711 would fit what you are looking for....but be prepared, it's close to $1,000 Dell UltraSharp U2711 Review - Watch CNET's Video Review http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSj9eT2EuVU
I've been preparing to replace my crappy TN based Acer panel with a Dell U2410 (24") for quite some time...but things keep stealing the $600 out of my budget.