Thanks guys, I'm not dissing anything just trying to get a point of reference established since as Dave said I'm probably at least two generations behind in bike design.
I will be looking into the different models and brands you guys have ridden, liked, and/or suggest, I'm not going to rush into this so it's going to take a lot of playing etc. I'm not really ready to lay down the $$ yet anyway, but I'm just trying to stir the pot in my head.
I thought about doing a single-speed conversion on my hardtail and calling it good, but have kinda moved back to upgrading. I am thinking I am going to buy a new bike (full suspension) and then tear down my hardtail and just have fun rebuilding it. Not like it's going to be great when I'm done, but I just want to play with it and see what happens. In the near future, though, the BB and the fork/brakes (I think you guys are convincing me of discs, going to check that out today) are the parts that I would like to replace if I'm going to survive another season on it.
I have lots of research to do, there's so many bikes/systems/geometries out there. Gotta go test some out too