I'm sure you're probably more confused now than when you first posted your question but I'll add my 2 cents to the pot.
Like another poster, I've taken Digital imaging and PS classes and the instructors (all graphic arts and newspaper people) always recommend setting the workspace to, you guessed it Adobe RGB because of the wider gamut. The reasons they give is similar to the advice they give for cropping and re sizing, etc: mainly this: You can always take away data but its harder to put back what you've removed. Besides, you can always convert to sRGB once you've finished your editing.
As far as monitors go, I suggest looking at IPS (in-plane switching) monitors. Unless you do photo editing or graphics design professionally, you don't have to spend big bucks on a decent monitor. Have a look at the Dell Ultrasharp U2412 or ASUS PA248Q. IPS Monitors are pre-calibrated at the factory, although, its a good idea to do your own calibration. I wouldn't rely on the built-in calibration algorithm in most monitors. It might not be to your liking especially if you're doing your own printing.