Check Local shops and even Sam Ash or Guitar Center because exports are on their way out being replaced by the Visions series so you can get heavily discounted prices on them I got my Exr's for only $375 8)
ive had one for along time and i like it. i like how pearls hardware has 2 rods going into the bass drum rather than just one like tama and some of the others cuz it can give u more options to do stuff, for example i have one tom out one hole and a cymbal arm out of the other.
^^^Remember, you're an individual...just like everyone else.
In today's market, it really comes down to what kind of wood and hardware you want. I used to tell people that it's like ice cream. Do you like Crystal vanilla or do you like Dryer's vanilla? One flavor, two recipes. The moral is, buy what you like. Who's tom mounts do you like, who has the color options you like, etc.. That said, "Philippine Mahogany" (what Exports are made of) is not a real mahogany. It's just swamp wood, like basswood, that Pearl uses because it's cheap. To their credit, this is the wood industry standard name for this wood and not their own name for it.
Me, personally, I'd opt for maple or birch since those are options for intermediate level kits now.