please help with new purchase

My home is very modern...hard woods, Floor to ceiling glass windows(11 ft), and lots of natural stone. In short, very bright sound. I like great sound but i don't like stacks of equipment. As well I live in a resort town which is a 6 hour drive to the nearest hi end audio dealer so I don't have the luxury going back and forth from dealers trying out turntables. My budget is $2500. I have a McIntosh integrated amp with phono inputs. my question is.....should I just go out and by a Rega P3 for $600 and be done with it for a year or so to see if I really like the vinyl sound? Or have you found that really thats a waste of time and money because I will just want to upgrade to a better unit shortly after. In short, I am trying to get a sense of whether or not the addition of a tuntable can be a simple process.....or will I be creating a monster (wanting to start tweaking and buying complement products).
Personally, I'd get the Rega. Its a good starting point. You won't have too much invested if you find the hassle of vinyl is too much for you. If you really enjoy the sound of vinyl and the music available to you in that medium, you can always upgrade and become more anal about the quality of the components, and more importantly the set up and maintenance, at a latter date.

Be sure, starting out, to get a cartridge that is somewhat forgiving of set up errors and, especially, VTA settings. Do not start out with a line source stylus. Also make sure the cartridge's output matches the Mac's phone stage gain.

Have fun!
I agree with Newbee. The Rega P3 is a good table. It's a touch better than the bottom of the line entry level tables, but it's not outrageously expensive. Regas are also relatively easier tables to set up. So you can gently break yourself in to the viny world without too much hassle. By the way, once a table is set up, it doesn't really require too much continuing maintenance unless you change the cartridge or disassemble it to move it.

As far as the monster waiting to be tweaked and complemented, that applies to anything, not just turntables.
Agree buy the Rega.
I disagree, dime up for a VPI Scout, they are a huge jump up from the Rega sound-wise and they sell quickly used if you decide to upgrade. Setup is a bit more difficult on the VPI but this is a non-issue now that Fremer has a DVD telling you how to do it with this table. Also I have had great luck with the graham slee phono preamp with my scout. I had an MMF-5 as my first real table and the Rega was very similar in sound when I demoed them, and the Scout demolishes it.
I agree with the Rega as a good place to start. I auditioned the P3 and the P5 extensively before choosing the P5 with Rega Exact cart. and the upgraded would fall nicely within your price range. And, added benefit, you may not need to upgrade in a year or three.
No brainer. Get the scout and a good cartridge.
Can you please explain this "Also make sure the cartridge's output matches the Mac's phone stage gain".
It seems more logical to buy the best you can get for your entire budget because of the very low chance that you won't like vinyl. Also, if you didn't like it, you would be nagged by the possibility that you might have liked it had you got a better table to start. I just got back into it and LOVE it, both finding great LPs cheap and the quality of the sound.

Cartridges have varing levels of output, from low output MC's to high output MM's. If you use a high output MM cartridge just about any phono stage will have enuf gain, but many built in phono stages are not high gain and cannot drive low to medium low output cartridges. You need to make sure the amount of gain you have in your phono section is enuf for the amount of output from the cartridge.
I would take the opposite approach. Get a Dual 1229 and find someone to help you set it up. If you really like it, you'll figure out the next step in due time.

I've made it's lesser brother (the 1228) sing without trying too hard.

Thom @ Galibier
Thanks for all your help. I ended up buying a used Rega P9.