About your frustration at so little response to your question: if you look at the "printers, papers, and ink" segment of the LL forum you will find extensive discussions of printers. You are facing a daunting choice, because it will always seem that for just a little more money you can get a printer that offers some really nifty additional feature or capability. There are some very good deals on printers available right now, and what seems to make them very good is the amount of ink included in the deal. You'l find lots of discussion of that on the PPI segment.
I've used a Canon i9900 ($500 new) for the past 6 years and just replaced the printhead. I have been very happy with results, but have noticed that my printer has become something of an orphan in terms of profiles for new papers. I would also like to move from dye to pigment inks (though the blacks concern me).
Anyway, what you'll quickly learn from the discussions of printers is that there is no perfect solution but some set of compromises (size, cost, weight, availability) and some matters of taste or intuition that will drive your final decision. Epson or Canon printers is a bit like Nikon or Canon SLR cameras--either choice will work extremely well, just think through the experiences others have had in light of your personal preferences/tolerances. (For example, nozzle clogs caused by not using the printer for a couple of weeks would trouble me because photography is a hobby and I print episodically. For a pro who prints almost daily/surely weekly this would not matter.)
I'll be interested to see what you choose, since I'm thinking about upgrading to something about the same price. I still lean toward Canon, based on my recent years' experience. but all said above about Epson (3880 or 4880 are great choices for your prince point (considering inks, too), and maybe a 3900 so something about to announce) is valid.
"Shades of Paper" may be a good source of advice for you.