So I'm two months in on my new commuting-to-work-and-changing-my-life-for-better plan. I've tired to read as much as I could before I bought a bike. I looked at a Giant, Scott, and Trek. After thinking I would I have some clue to what I was looking at I went to a LBS. Turns out I was totally lost, but everyone was pretty helpful. They recommended the 7.1 fx (and a few other models). I liked the trek the best. Maybe it was brand recognition or the shiny new shop.
As it turns out trek started in wisconsin, so i bought a 7.3 fx, I feel better keeping things local. I figure once I get into it (and hopefully like it), I would have wanted a higher model instead of the 7.1. Turns out the 7.3 is a pretty good bike. I just hit 300 miles tonight. I am also happy to report that I shaved about 2 and a half miles off my commute time since I started.
I'm glad I found these forums. They influenced me buying my 1-watt blaze light combo, sks fenders, computer, and some other stuff. (I thought i was going to save money. Now I have to buy all these cool toys for biking).