I have been out 3 times this year and want to get a cheap beginner setup before the season is over. I'm looking for a versatile freeride setup that is competent in ice and powder, but I don't want to rule out the park completely. I have a $400 budget, and would prefer to spend more on boots and bindings.
So far I have picked out the following:
Forum Recon 161 ($149)
Rome 390 ($133)
The bindings seem to be a good bet, but I have read mixed things about Forum. Boots I plan on buying in-store (anyone recommend a store in NYC?).
I say go for the recon - its a good price, and I don't see why it wouldn't work as a beginner board and something to grow into. I love my Forum board, although mine is stiff as hell (I've gotten used to it and like it though)
Even if you only ride that board 5 times this season you are getting more than your moneys worth. I think as a beginner it really wouldn't matter what kind of board you step on to, because if you have nice bindings and boots you can always use them on another board so next season (or whenever you replace the board) all you need to buy is a board. Good price on the board and the bindings. I'd reccomend getting boots locally if you can so that you get to try them on first.