what he said.
Infrastructure is what matters. If you go out and blow four figures on a whiz-bang radio and no one is on the other end, than you have a nice, shiny bookend.
Look into what digital repeaters are up in your area. If there is none, is anyone else interested in investing in digital? All the formats have their pluses and minuses. All of them are EXPENSIVE infrastructure wise- all of them will require a broadband internet connection at the repeater site if you plan on adding them to any network. Like any repeater, a good site is critical. This is the most expensive part.
In my area, D-star is the dominant digital choice for ham radio, with DMR and Nexedge/iDAS in a few spots, P25 is the least used with but a single ham band repeater on the outskirts of town, and a couple others throughout the state. I have D-star, TRBO/DMR and P25.
If you do have digital of one kind or another, I suggest getting with someone who owns a radio of the format in question and see if you can borrow it for a day or so, if they aren't willing to loan out their $600 dollar radio to a stranger, don't be offended, but ask them to come to your QTH and see how well the repeaters in your area work. Not much point to buying an expensive radio if there isn't a repeater you can hit with it from where you are.
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