In an earlier post, "Learning Ham Radio; start with a Police Scanner?", I was looking at $200 scanners, attracted by all the bells and whistles. But since then, I've gotten my "Two-Way Radios & Scanners For Dummies" book, and after reading up on them, I think the $100 range would suit me fine.
Here are the top three I'm looking at now, from Radio Shack:
200-Channel VHF/AIR/UHF Desktop Scanner with 1-Touch Service
Some good friends of ours own this model, and recently they came to visit and brought it with them, so I got to see first hand how it works. Easy to use, and good reception. They use it in town, but even out here it picked up the police and sheriff's departments just fine. It gets 200 channels, and is programmable. It goes for $100, but I've seen it on sale for $79. It's got good reviews by users, but some reviewers claim it's little more than a toy. The one drawback I could see is that it only runs on AC power, no option for batteries, so if your power goes out, you're out of luck.
PRO-82 200-Channel Handheld Scanner
This model is also 200 channels. The manual is easy to read (the manuals for all these units are available for download as .pdf files), and it can run on batteries and is very mobile, great for traveling. It's $100.
PRO-433 1,000-Channel Triple-Trunking Desktop/Mobile Scanner
This last model is the one I think I'm leaning towards. It costs $120, but for that $20 more you get 1000 channels, 800Mgz capability, more frequencies, the ability to scan trunked radio systems, the option of batteries and the flexibility of mobility and portability. It's also gotten great reviews from customers.
I don't think any of the places I'd be scanning are using trunking, but if they upgrade to it later, I'll still be able to listen. I'll read up on them more, then visit our local Radio Shack and start asking questions, and see if I can clarify what would be the best for my situation.
I've also got the book: "Ham Radio For Dummies" by Ward Silver, the same author who wrote the scanner book, and I'm looking forward to reading it too. But first things first, and I think it will be focusing on a good scanner and making that purchase.