OK, I'm posting this message here and to the sister board, to get as much feedback as possible. For the past 1+ month, I have spent countless hours gathering quotes, researching windows, and researching companies, all to arrive at this point. I never imagined I would have spent this much time making this decision, and just like many of the other window shoppers out there, I have family and friends telling me I'm crazy to spend this much on a window "when I can get windows from HD for $150-$250 and install them myself (or have someone I know do it)" - I tend to laugh at those people now.... but anyways, here are the windows I have gotten quotes on in my price range. I'm not looking for anything fancy, just the best window I can get for the money I want to spend. I originally wanted to get something for under/around $400 installed in Atlanta, GA.
Thermal Industries DH500 (lowE, argon) - $360 per window
Alside Excalibur (lowE, argon) - $410 per window
Alside Sheffield (lowE, argon) - $460 per window
Simonton 5500 $445 per
Gorell 5100 AC Master $448 per (this took quite a bit of negotiation)
All of these are for 18 double hung windows all around 30" x 51" installed with capping/foam. I really liked the Gorells, they seem to have quite favorable reviews on these boards, and the company seemed impressive with a solid warranty, and I think I'd prefer these to the Alside or the Simonton. But a part of me still just wants to consider the Thermal Industries - mostly because of the price. I guess I am just trying to justify in my head the ~$1700 price difference.... the dh500 seemed nice, very basic, very cheap, U/SHGC values were good ~.30 (same as Gorell). I could tell the quality was just not comparable to the Gorell but when it comes down to it - that is a lot of money to me. I know, you get what you pay for, but to be honest, I don't remember a single moment in my lifetime where I've ever heard of anyone having problems with windows on their house (before reading this board of course