Wondering what the best starter would be.
I know Korgs and some Rolands have cool features.
I'm mainly looking for that cheesy 80's synth sound.
Are there cheaper alternatives?
I have cancer, fight me.
Get something easy to use with a lot of presets, but also a lot of ways to create your own sounds, you can take it as easy as you want.

I've never gone wrong with Korg.

I run a Korg EA-1 Electribe + a microKorg + a standard midi keyboard, all connected through a midi interface. This set-up rules.

However, if I could only have one, I definitely reccomend the microKorg, easy to use and professional sounding at the same time, just make sure to learn ALL the features so you don't get stuck using the same prest patterns over and over again.
Electrolytes Smell Like Semen...
^How is that pricewise though?
I don't want to make a huuuge investment for something I may only play around with time to time.
I have cancer, fight me.
The microKorg is about $500, which is a lot of you're just fooling around with it.

My EA-1 was used and I got it for $80, it's cool too but hard to play, as it's more of a modelling device and works best being run through another midi keyboard. It is fun to fool around with though.

Another idea I just had... is just investing in a cheap midi keyboard, then getting a copy of some midi software like Reason (which is expensive, but you could get it off limewire or something...) and just playing the midi keyboard through your computer all the time.

This lets the computer program the sound of the midi keyboard, so when you play the keyboard, it runs through the software and gets programmed to sound like various synth noises.

I don't know EXACTLY how this works, but I know the lead singer of my old band used to do this to record some songs.
Electrolytes Smell Like Semen...
I have a YAMAHA DX21, from the 80s, and it is amazing.
Patterns In The Ivy present ethnicity on an intriguing and dedicated level. ~Ambient Exotica
A mesmeric melange of yearning voice, delicate piano and carefully chosen samples. ~Lost Voices
^I've found through eBay and Craig's List that the older ones are cheaper. And they're from the eras where I want the sound.
But are there any like cheap models of Korgs?
Besides the MicroKorgs.
I have cancer, fight me.
Korg is the way forward I would say. Look on ebay and you will probably find a real 80s one. They're the sex. Or, y'know, save up and get the oasys (its about 20 grand i think)

Wouldn't recommend a yamaha. I love 80s synth sound and I have the yamaha DGX500, constantly patching it, synths on it are shit.
Some people are probably going to flame me here... but modern synths sound as good if not better than older synths.

Just because it's modern doesn't mean it doesn't have 80's sounds... it usually means it has 80's sounds AND a bunch of other cool features.

Synthesizers (unlike tube vs. SS amps) keep improving on themselves and get better and better.

(However, I use synths for NIN type stuff, and don't usually use them for 80's stuff)
Electrolytes Smell Like Semen...