Check out millerwelds.com
it is a pretty good site as far as being user freindly and explaining the advantages of different processes or types of welding
I say that what it boils down to is that MIG is as about as simple as it gets for laying a bead. You can use a self sheilding wire or add a bottle of sheilding gas to non sheilded wire and get a clean slag free weld.
Buy as big a machine as you can afford even if you need to partner up with somebody. You will just about always be able to step down to thinner material welding with a big machine but stepping up to thicker with a little machine is difficult
There are several homeowner/hobbist 110V machines that will weld 3/16" but you just about have to step up to a 220 rig to go thicker (Single pass)
Look at the option/capibilities to add on welding with Stainless wire or adding on a Spoolgun for aluminum later down the road
As far as stick TIG combos go I have an old Econo TIG, I don't know if it is the machine or me but the TIG is too hot for as thin as I was hoping to be able to weld. TIG has its uses but many of them can be overcome with MIG
In the perfect world I would get a large multi process machine and add a wirefeeder for 90% of what I do. Save the stick welding for rusty jobs and big fills, use a spoolgun for aluminum and just have a TIG to play with when I want to be mesmerized puddeling metal
My biggest problem, after lack of money, is that I don't weld often enough to stay in good form. About the time that I finish a little project I get back into the groove and start to lay good beads and by then it isn't fun any more, it is just another job.