In the world of computer monitors, there's quality, ... and then there's the rest of us. I buy my monitors at places like Costco, Target and Best Buy, where you can pick up a 27-inch unit for under $300.
Remember that statement about "you get what you pay for?" It's particularly true of low-end monitors where color calibration is often an afterthought rather than a guiding product principle. TUAW Talkcast regular Shawn "Doc Rock" Boyd offers a great workaround for all of us who buy low on the food chain.
Instead of spending upwards of $200 for a display calibrator, he's discovered that you can rent a color meter from your local photo shop for somewhat less than $20. He offers a quick but excellent write-up on his personal blog, with hints about the process. (Don't forget to save your calibrated settings in case you need to swap out hard drives or upgrade to a new OS.)
Apple-branded shiny and white is a wonderful thing, but it's not a solution for everyone. Doc's calibration rental solution provides an effective workaround for people who want to make the most of the equipment they can afford.