Well I finally decided on the new bike, to replace the Tek7000 hardtail, and the winner is... the 2005 Specialized Epic Comp Disc.
I will take delivery in the middle of September (Spec is slow to get those out for some reason) - the wait is going to absolutely kill me but it will be worth it I think.
I had ordered and paid for the 2004 model (see how impatient I am!) but when they went to order it the remainder had been snatched up by a resort somewhere that wanted to supply bikes to a visiting club. So I looked real disappointed and let the upper lip quiver a bit... and the lbs said he would give me the '05 model for the same price! Well ... I let the lip quiver a bit more and he threw in a Bell X-ray helmet and a pair of Spec Sonoma (my choice) shoes. Sweet! Even has hydraulic brakes - that may take some getting used to for sure...that and the clipless pedals. They are a great lbs (Tanners Bikes, Tyler, Texas).
I'm really excited - I hope I don't explode before mid-Sept waiting on the darn thing! The old Trek is sniffing that something is up - it's been licking my hand a lot since I brought home the Spec catalog.
I'll keep it, too and have a FS and a hardtail.
Thanks for all the feedback on what to look for.