MBC's definitely the way to go in the begining, as long as you're careful about tuning it correctly (which as you said you have to be a dumbass to mess up ).
I currently have the Go Fast Bits one which I picked up for $50 and it works quite well. Most people however, are extremely satisfied with the Joe P, or Hallman boost controllers, which are also very good and range from $40-$100. The other popular option is the Turbo XS boost controller which is about $70.
In regards to which one to buy, everyone has their own brand preference, but they really all do the same thing. I think it would be unwise however to spend more than $50 on an MBC because there's no performance advantage to getting a more expensive one, and you may as well save the money for something else, or put it towards an EBC in the future!
While I'm happy with the GFB, there is a TON of info in this forum on the Hallman and Joe P. so I might reccomend you just go ahead and get either of those.
You can get them at http://www.boostcontroller.com/ for $45, and that's a damn good deal. You WILL be happy with a boost controller, just make sure you set it up in very small increments, and I wouldn't reccomend setting boost higher than 16-16.5 psi in 3rd!
Good luck, have fun (let me know if you need install help too)