Yes, there are some very good low cost units currently. It's another time for change in the SSD market overall, but if you've never had one it shouldn't be thought too much about and just finally get one. The issue with me (because I nitpick) comes to the pricing target and what the small step in money actually gives me in the end.
$96 = Mushkin Chronos
. SF-2281 controller, generic Asynch NAND, fairly good firmware thus average performance in all aspects, 3yr warranty.
$120 = Mushkin Chronos Deluxe MX
- SF 2281 controller, generic SYNCH NAND, good firmware and is a tad slower than Mushkin's own DX ($200) or Vertex 3, 3 year warranty.
$130 = Intel 330 Maple Crest
- SF-2281 controller, cherry picked Synch NAND, Great firmware and surprising performance. The 180GB version competes with Vertex3/Intel 520 in real usage. 5 year warranty.
$144 = Samsung 830
- Samsung's own Tri-core ARM Controller, Samsung ? NAND, and the rest is unknown to me.
See the trend here? It doesn't stop...
$150 = Intel 520 Cherryville
- SF-2281 controller, cherry picked Synch NAND, good firmware, performance on par for this price, 5 year warranty.
$150 = OCZ Vertex 4
- Indilinx Everest2 controller (Marvell), Cherry picked Synch NAND, firmware unknown (1.3 has issues, no feed back on 1.4 update), performance should be better than the Intel 520 or Samsung 830...but only down the road as they write this firmware.
From there (minus the Samsung already mentioned), we jump right into $200+ (Mushkin DX, Intel 330 180G, etc...). I'd like to repeat that if you've never had an SSD, the plain Chronos is a great entry point and not to dive too deeply into all the "faster" drives (don't get into the hype). I use the Mushkin Chronos, the Chronos MX, Chronos DX, Intel 330, and Intel 520. I wish I could personally comment on the Samsung 830, but since none of my PC's ever sleep/idle in order to do garbage collection, I need the Sandforce's constant garbage collection and never went there. With the constant garbage collection, it just feels very good from day-to-day. The reads can be "fixed" over time by inducing TRIM by simply emptying the Recycle Bin (And I assume you can do this with the 830). With the Vertex 4, it has the possibility to wow me and go back to them again but it just hasn't happened yet.
So...yeah, $100-150 has a variety within that range. None of them suck at all (compared to any SSD in the past), and going low cost for the SSD wouldn't hurt you one bit. If it were me, I'd go for the basic Chronos. In the iTX build I can restart and be back up and running in 17seconds which happens to be the fastest of them all (more to boot than just the SSD, so take that with a grain of salt), but my desktops take that long just to boot from cold. And in daily usage, it's plenty fast. It's low cost, not really cheap as in low quality. What does $10 or $20 more net you? IMO, not much really upfront. Cherry picked NAND and the 5yr warranty it comes with it, and great Firmware writers I suppose; and at that point you're into $150+ IMO.
I know there's a plethora of them out there and I only summed up my own opinion, so if there's any more specific data you'd like feel free to ask.
it's going to be really hard for you to go under about $1/GB minus $10ish on the whole drive
See the other replies. SSD's can be had off sale for under $1/GB and only go down from there during sales. Not top of the line of course, but not everyone needs the best of the best. $78 (last I paid) for a pretty good 120G SSD sounds good to me.