What are some basic things I should know before buying a board?
Do you have access to a computer running Windows, Linux, or MacOS? That is a requirement for working with an Arduino.
Yes, my laptop runs Windows 7. Would these starter kits be suitable? http://www.amazon.com/Starter-Kit-Newsite-Uno-Breadboard/dp/B0051QHPJM/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1362468097&sr=1-1&keywords=arduino
or this: http://www.amazon.com/CanaKit-AX-KIT1-Arduino-Starter-Kit/dp/B007NNICDE/ref=sr_1_8?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1362468153&sr=1-8&keywords=arduino+starter+kit
A starter kit would probably be better than getting a board by itself?
I would like to eventually do more than just flash the LED and other simple stuff. Having said that, I would preferably like to keep the overall cost below $50 and have a good number of options in terms of stuff I can do with the board. Is that possible?