I couldn't agree more with your assesment. However, with a niche market like ours, finding a near by shop with trials gear is non existent. I have talked to others and found decent feed back, but since this is such an individual choice, we can only go on reviews and opinions.
Third rule of economics: you get what you pay for. Like others, I found this out the hard way and use this during my selection process. The search continues. I will post my results when the final decision is made. Thanks.