Power to the People

So lately I've been curious about power meters. I understand their advantages over other methods of tracking efforts and training, but most of the options available are way too expensive, costing anywhere from $600 to $3,000. There are crank based meters, pedal meters, hub, and even heart rate based power meters. They're such an investment I want to make the best informed decision possible.

Garmin is coming out with their Vector pedal based power meter this march, but that would require me to buy another set of road specific shoes. Quarq and SRM make crank arm solutions, but they're expensive and would take away the classic and understated look of my bike. CycleOps offers hubs that seem fairly reasonable with the least amount of set up, granted that I know how to build wheels.

Is it too much to go through all the trouble of having to build a new rear wheel, and probably upgrading my Garmin watch to a computer? Well, I'm beginning to understand my limiters in cycling, and heart rate based training can only take you so far. In observing efforts through wattage there's nothing more absolute and accurate. Ultimately, I think I could train better with a power meter.

In the meantime I'll be researching different setups and components, their advantages and disadvantages. If you have previous experience with any of the above mentioned systems I'd love to get your feedback.