I'm late to the party, but I love this post. Even though I am very much at fault for calling the upper level gear "tech" gear.
I think that a lot of people (especially in my area) call stuff tech gear if they're using it for tech, or to distinguish that it's breaking past the upper tier of recreation gear... To me, you can go out and buy a high dollar whatever computer with an air transmitter and a color screen with nav (Looking at you, Mares) for $1800, or you can go buy a Petrel. To me, the Petrel is "tech" because it's focused on tech diving even though it's awesome for rec. That tier of diver tends to know that spending tons of money on gear that is supposed to enhance your skill level or abilities isn't the way to go. It's best (in this "tech" setting) to go for minimalism and rely on your own training and skill.
When I was just a wee OW diver, I wanted the best that Sherwood and Oceanic and Mares had to offer, with tons of pockets and places to put stuff and bells and whistles. Now, my kit is EXACTLY what I need it to be and nothing more, nothing less. It is tried and true and solid as can be. I have a removable pocket for my BP/W if I'm with students/don't have my drysuit on. My old BC had about 100 pockets. Big selling point was the 12 D-rings... I have four now, and that is exactly enough.
It makes me so sad to think about how many people go out and buy a Petrel for their OW class, or they go out with a MK25 EVO/A700 or whatever to start in OW. And then I just HOPE that they'll continue to dive and have some solid gear, but I worry that they wont dive any more, or that they'll get into the mindset that the expensive gear is just as good as a refresher course when they pick it up in a year. So often it's because they had a "tech" diver telling them what is best and they took that to mean that the gear does the hard work for them. Fact of the matter is that what's best to me may be the worst to another diver.
Also, seriously. Support the LDS. Mine has a few prices that beat Amazon, but even if they don't, I'll happily pay them a few bucks more for the stuff since I was in there and used up their time asking them 1,000,000 questions, and I know they'll be there if I need my reg serviced a week before my trip or something. Sure, if your LDS is full of assholes and dickbags, avoid them. But if there's one near you at all that loves diving and wants to help you out, accept that paying them 10-20% more is worthwhile for having them around and for the time that they spend helping you out.
I always tell my students/friends to wait for a little while to buy their gear. You can handle a few rentals because after a while, you'll learn that you want to continue your education or go to tech or go into caves and wrecks, or you'll decide that you just want a really great, comfy vest BC with the most average regs, so on. Unless you're talking about hyper-specialized/training-required stuff, I'd say it's unfair to rule any options out.
TL;DR - Great post.