It sounds to me like you want a western handle and I assume stainless, (if not stainless you will have more options). I was a western handle guy, but since I have converted and love the Japaneese style handles (Wa).
Considering (open to change):
Chef Knife- Must Have, I like 240mm but if you are accustomed to the 8" knife then 210mm may be better (work space and personal preference)- Artifex $70-$90
Paring/Utility knife- Must Have, I love my 150m petty and use it about as much as my bigger gyuto.- Artifex $50
Leaves about $80 in the budget
After selecting these two you can go several directions as 99% of your kitchen knife needs will be met (needs not wants
). The bread knife is a good way to go (you could stay the Artifex route here, but the Tojiro 270mm ITK Bread Knife is what I have and it is excellent. I also have had a lot of fun with my CCK Small Cleaver $40 (learning to use it) which may be soemthing you want to try out too. Folks that learn to use cleavers swear by them and use little else.
MORE IMPORTANTLY: If you do not have any sharpening stones get the two knives and spend the rest of your money on the stones.
The Bestor 5pc set is a great starting point http://www.chefknivestogo.com/3pcstoneset.html
If you are really strict on the budget then the King combo stone will at least get you some sharpening ability http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kingcombostone.html
$45 (which still leaves room for the cleaver). The Bestor set is worth every penny more than the king option. Make sure to watch all Mark's videos and practice on one of your older knives.
Finally your last question about the difference between the knife lines. The primary difference is the steel used. The Tojiro uses VG-10 stainless and the Artifex is AEB-L. Teh Artifex should be able to take a better edge and keep it longer, they both are stainless, and the Artifex is $10 less expensive . . .