Well, I finally saved up enough (through ebay and babysitting) to take the plunge and buy the new 5200 blender from Vitamix. The container is made of a new plastic that does not leach BPA, so I decided to go ahead and get that one, instead of a cheaper 5000. I have a stainless steel 3600 that is probably over 20 years ago, and its just not powerful enough for what I want it to do.
So I've been researching dehydrators for about 3 hours now. Whew. There's a lot of pros and cons for each one. I've found a lot of great information on forums, this one in particular:
What I want in a dehydrator is a temperature control, plenty of trays so I can make more bulky items by removing a tray, and definitely a timer - I just know I'll forget all about it and so I know I need a timer.
So these are the top 4 dehydrators according to most sites:
Excalibur Dehydator 9 tray with timer
Good4U Dehydrator 10 tray with timer
Cabela's Stainless Steel dehydrator
SausageMaker's Stainless Steel dehydrator
Amazon Review that I particularly liked