I feel overwhelmed by all the different types of ski equipment. As someone who skis hard maybe a dozen times a year on mostly East Coast snow (probably once out west, too), what kind of boots, bindings, and skis would work for me? I know I'm a little early here, but I'm already dreing of that first snowfall. Ron Washington, D.C.
Of course when buying ski gear, it all depends on the amount of dough you wish to drop, as even a basic boot/binding/ski setup runs $600 or more. That, and the type of snow you expect to encounter. Back east, of course, you get a lot of hard machine-made snow, so you want a ski that carves well in crud and ice. In the west, you're more apt to run into powder, which requires a little more flex in the ski. So that's a tough combo for one ski.
Still, I'd say any good-quality "all-mountain" ski would suit you well. An example: the Salomon Streetracer 9 ski ($600; www.salomonski.com). They tip a little in the direction of favoring hard snow, but won't let you down when the stuff is softer. Good all-around ski, with a big sidecut for easy turn initiation. Take a look as well at the Völkl 7-24 EXP ($650; www.volkl.com), a true all-mountain ski that nicely balances stiffness and flex, along with a new sidecut design that Völkl bills as helping maintain edge contact. For $200 more you can get the 7-24s with a ski-specific Marker binding.
For boots, probably look at something in the "performance" line—not entry-level, nor an over-turned racing boot. Nordica Beast 10 boots ($369; www.nordica.com) will match up well with either of the above skis, giving you good stiffness for easy skinning but also decent comfort. I like Tecnica boots, and the Rival X10 Ultrafit ($525; www.tecnicausa.com) would work great. It comes with a heat-molded liner for better fit. And fit is everything, so take the time to find a boot that fits great.
The bindings should match up with the ski and boot. Candidates would include Marker Titanium 1200s ($200; www.markerusa.com); Rossignol Scratch 100s ($180; www.rossignol.com); or Salomon's SA10s ($160). All offer good performance at a reasonable price.