I am new to the ConceptArt community and looking forward to learnign and getting involved here! I am a novice digital artist with particular interest in photo retouching and restoration and graphic desing for print items like CD packaging, posters, postcards, business cards, mailers etc.

I am looking to upgrade some of my equipment in the ole lab here. I want to take my retouching and design skills to the next level and I am considering purchasing the following:

Monitor Hood

My questions are:

1.) What monitor is the best for accurate (as possible) color display? I have read in places that CRT beats out LCD and I am wondering if this is true. I will be searching for an entry level type monitor and would love to find out some good brands and what is really best for representing color as accurately as possible.

2.) Where can I get a decently priced Monitor Hood?

3.) Is the lighting in a room more important than the hood?

4.) What is the ideal lighting situation with or without a hood?

5.) I've read that Spyder is the way to go for monitor calibration:

Would it be alright for me to get the Spyder2express or should I get the
Spyder2 Suite? I don't anticipate printing any final prints from my printer. I would be sending files back to people who I did retouches for or sending them to places like Mpix, Kodak, Costco etc. for printing.

6.) I'd like to get a new printer and scanner. As far as quality scanning goes, would it be alright to get one of those printer/scanner combos? Or would it be better to separate out printer and scanner?

Can you recommend some printers and scanners that are of mid-level price range?

For all of the above.... is it advisable to buy direct from the manufacturer, or are there places I can get deals on used items. Is eBay a good place for things like this?

Thanks for any inisght you can share!