First of all, I want to thank you guys for all the information you've provided. It made for a much more educated consumer as well as helped me eliminate two contractors almost immediately: no load calcs, etc. In fact, I had one contractor spend no more than 8 minutes on my bid, and that included his writing time! Both contractors load calcs were within 2K BTU, and within 5K of my own so I feel they were done well.

I've narrowed it to two contractors/systems. Each offered two brands, and it's essentially between the recommended system of each contractor. The experience with both individuals was exceptional, and nearly to the point that I feel bad only one can get the job. Believe it or not, the totals after rebates are less than a hundred bucks apart, so that aspect has been eliminated. Mr. 8 minutes actually had the low bid on an "equivalent" system if I remember correctly, (I spent as much time with his bid as he spent writing it) Too bad his haste threw away the job. Travis, you know who I'm talking about.

Here they are:

Carrier Infinity System
60K Infinity 96 2-stage VS (94% efficiency rating)
2 Ton Infinity 18 2-stage AC w/matching coil (15.5+ SEER)
(anyone know the physical size of this AC unit offhand?)
Infinity Control System thermostat
10 year parts and labor warranty

York Affinity System
PV9B12N060 Affinity 60K 2-stage VS (93.2% efficiency rating)
CZE024 2-stage AC w/matching coil (14.75 SEER)
Honeywell Vision Pro 8000 thermostat
10 year parts and labor warranty

Both bids are all inclusive: Sheet metal, liner for orphaned water heater, new breaker for AC (cutoff box was replaced this summer), gas ball valve to code,and permits. No pad is needed for AC as it sits on existing concrete patio.

Based on all the posts I've already read, I'm pretty sure which way opinions will go, but wanted to offer it up for your comments. Fire away...