I know in this economy money is going to be the first thing you think about when making an equipment purchase. However some things you should also keep in mind are as follows. How long has the equipment been on the market? How long has the company been making the equipment? Where is it made? How easy is it to get parts? What is the warranty? Where is the closest repair center? What is the life span of the units? What kind of support do they offer to get you up and running?
Now having said all that I will tell you I am pro Roland. Yes they are a little more money than some of the new units out there, but it is also a case of you get what you pay for. I know of Roland units that are still working after 15 to 20 years.
As far as bundle packages, make yourself a list of what is in them and what you are actually getting next to just the cost of the unit. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by all the extras.
It sounds like you are off to a good start my doing your home work and finding out information before you purchase. Most of these companies have videos posted showing how the unit works. Watch them several times, pay attention to what they are saying and what they are not saying. I was an add on TV a few months back for a system now sold in the craft stores …cut your own graphics up to 36” lettering… but the cutting area was only 12 x 12 so you had to piece things together.
Be careful of the very low end low price units and make sure they will do what you need, or you will be replacing them in a few months with one of the higher end units. Hope this helps a little.