ok, took your advice and looked at some higher end windows. as i said, i thought the alside excalibur, silverline, MI, and Bonded all looked cheaply made and you guys validated that for me. so, here i am looking at higher end windows.
first was the simonton 9800 and 5500. i was a bit disappointed with how bulky it was and the performance numbers seemed to be lacking quite a bit. dont get me wrong, it didnt seem like a bad window but just not up there with the others i saw. Simonton is off my list.
second was Soft Lite Elements. great looking window, solid, and great performance numbers. this is what a high end window should look like.
Third was the Okna 800 EnviroStar. another beautiful looking window with exceptional performance numbers and built very well.
Lastly, the Sunrise Vanguard. nice looking window with good numbers, just liked the okna and soft lite better. Sunrise is also a few steps above the simonton in my opinion.
So, where does this leave me. i am caught between the Soft Lite Elements and the Okna 800 EnviroStar windows. the Okna did come in a bit cheaper than the soft lite but i am not basing my decison on price alone. both contractors are well regarded and were very informative.
any advice would be greatly appeciated.