Ok, you can get a Motorola RAZR & headset for $180 (free after rebate (ya have to wait 6 months in to apply)), with 2 year service agreement.
You can get this deal thru tigerdirect, buy.com, or amazon.com - and probably others. The service is with Cingular, but I think T-Mobile may be offering the same deal now - or very soon.
First, I still cant believe how long cell phones have been around - and all the interfaces that I have used still are stupid - or still have really stupid things about them. The RAZR is no exception. The interface is clunky and counter-intuitive in areas.
Second, just because your friend says they like a particular carrier (like T-mobile) - doesnt mean that its great for you. The problem here is that you need to talk with someone who you work with and visits the same geographic areas that you do around town, etc. That way you can be more sure about which carrier best suits your needs.
Third, overall - I believe Verizon may be the best one for me. I have tried Verizon, T-mobile and Cingular. Cingular also sux cuz they still make you pay for (real world) text messaging.