I'm into SureFire's! Wife has an E2D in the car. I have an E2E in the truck. E1E in my travel toilet kit. M3 Combat with all the bells & whistles for hunting. The M3 saved our asses one night in the african bushveldt.
i carry a fenix P3D. i highly recommend it; very compact and reliable.
i have two G2 nitrolon's with cree Q5 LED dropins rated for 225 lumens (or so) a piece. one lives on my social AR15 and the other is strike bezelled and travels with me to unfriendly places when the P3D wont be social enough
beater is a maglite converted to LED. if you have a maglite i highly recommend you buy the factory upgrade to LED
I think part of the reason they cost so much is that people will pay more for a quality product. They are definitely superior to the cheap plastic lights at Walmart. They are more durable. The switches don't fail as often (if ever) and the LED's are of a higher output (some of the cheap ones may say 3 watts, but just put it against a 3 watt Streamlight or SureFire....you will see difference). The more expensive ones also have onboard electronics to regulate the voltage, keeping a constant light output even as the batteries get weaker. Finally, I think the specialty flashlight companies make more profit. They are not selling millions of these things, so they need to make more profit per unit. They are involved with R&D, where the Chinese knock-offs just try to duplicate what they have spent good money researching and developing.