Personaly, as a kettle i dont think you can beat a keg with the lid cut out of it.
When i have a buddy come over, If he pays for half of the cost of grain hops etc... He gets half of the brew. Problem for them is, Even if they get 5 gal of it. They dont have the c02 tank....That is the major drawback at the moment.
But i am sure one will pop up on craigslist soon
If you have time, and not in a hurry. Watch craigslist in your area. I have scored ALOT! of good deals.. Got a cooler for free. c02 tank, fridge, sanky tap, faucet $50.00
Lot of diy projects to that can cut down your costs.
I would consider keging if possible. Bottleing is a pain in the @ss.
Just my thoughts on it.