Advice on updating hardware


I'm looking for advice on updating my hardware.
I currently have a very simple setup.  I have a few X-10 devices and controllers that I installed around 2000.  They work.  But, I'm not really happy with them.  That 1/4 second delay bugs me.  And, they often don't respond at all.  So, I'd like to replace what I've got, and add a coupla new functions.
First thing, I have 2-wire aka no-neutral electrical in this house.  That greatly limits my hardware choices for the light switches.
My current setup: On one X-10 house code, I have two wall switches, plus a three-prong appliance module.  The appliance module is actually running an old photo lamp that currently has a big 400-watt-equivalent CFL in it.  That code has one wired and one wireless mini controller.
On another house code, I have two more wall switches, plus two lamp modules sharing a third unit code.  That house code has three wireless mini controllers.
A couple of additions I'd like to make.  One is a smart thermostat.  Also, I'd like a door sensor for my garage door, or a smart controller.  And, I currently have a dumb motion sensor on the front door light.  I'd like to replace that with a smart device, along with a way to turn that light on for 60 secs as I go out for the mail.
So, I'd like to replace all of that with modern hardware.  I'd like to control the lights both directly, and with replacements for the controllers I currently have.  Control from a phone/tablet and from PCs would occasionally come in handy.
My initial research made me think that I'd like to do Zigbee.  Mostly because I like to support open architectures.  But that research also seemed to indicate that Zigbee might not be quite ready for prime time.  It looked like one really needs to treat Zigbee as a hobby.  I was next leaning toward Z-Wave.  But I've seen threads here where people retch over Z-Wave (I haven't seen any explanations of why it's so horrible.)  I've not seriously been considering Insteon, because I rarely see it mentioned when I do cursory searches.  Though, I have seen one or two positive mentions in some threads.  I've seen UPB mentioned, but that's new to me, so I'm not sure if that's something I'm interested in.
As for what to run as an automation controller, I'm having trouble figuring out what products actually compete with each other, and which are in completely different categories.  I do know that I don't want one that requires an Internet connection to even operate.  Extra goodies over the 'Net are fine.  But, I want the core functionality within the house.  I have a spare XP-era PC I could dedicate, if it makes sense to do that.

I would be okay with a system that had multiple hardware protocols, if I can seamlessly cross over between them.  To the point where I could trigger with a controller on one protocol and have a device on a different protocol respond quickly.

I am a little price conscious on all this.  Most of my current "home automation" plans are better described as simple remote control.  I'm currently looking at automating only two or three functions.  I currently envision my home theater to be totally autonomous.  So, I don't think I need anything really powerful, to start.  My Scientific Wild-Ass Guess is that I should be able to do what I've described for well under $1000 for the hardware.  I'm not sure what software I need.  And, I'm not sure if that would be sufficiently future-proof, if I get into it and expand my plans.  (I already have a half dozen ideas.)
I am a techie geek.  I'm a C++, Java, and PHP programmer.  So, I think I'm capable of handling some complexity.  I've just found it very difficult to find a concise mid-level discussion of what's available.  Everything I've seen is aimed either at the rank novice.  Or, at the hard-core hobbyist, who has been keeping up with everything the last several years.  I'm about 1/3 of the way through the "What's wrong with CQC" thread, and it has been somewhat enlightening.  I'm picking up bits and pieces.  But, since it's not organized, I'm still a little lost on where some of the products mentioned fit in.
So, advice solicited.  Hopefully a few people are willing to give me a crash course on the last few years of home automation hardware and software, or pointers on where to find more info.
Drake Christesnsen

ISY994i has built in support for your X10 remnants. It supports Insteon natively and can take a Zwave adapter to do all three, if desired. Passive phase couplers for X10 work with Insteon also.
Insteon is probably the best protocol for range with it's dual mesh (rf and powerline) protocol but Insteon devices are limited to the basic lamp, appliance control and good MS and water leak sensing units. Door locks? people typically go to Zwave and have to use repeaters and stick with only a few brands if you want to get status back in a reasonable time.
ISY994i has a REST interface incorporated plus a Network Module option and this opens up the rest of the world with RPi's and WC8 projects that talk back and forth with ISY. My ISY controls Hue and MiLight bulbs and strips using only their respective Hubs. Other users control their Sonos audio systems and well as Somfy blinds, and gas fireplaces.
If you don't want automation logic and are an iUser the new Insteon Hub is being married into Apple's world but your X10 devices would be a throw away.
The no neutral is going to be a problem with any system if you adopt LED or CFL bulbs.
If you have some sort of dedicated automation controller, then multiple protocols is not just not an issue, it's quite common. That's one of the great things about them is that they allow you to integrate lots of stuff. Since no technology begins to cover all the bases, it's sort of necessary if you are going to really bring it all together. It's also quite common to layer a software controller over a more fundamental hardware substrate as well. 
If you want a 'just works' type hardware substrate setup, you may need to move beyond the consumer products. Not that plenty of people aren't successful with them, but it's a bit more of a crap shoot, and it's often hard to know which it will be until you are in pretty deep. And, in terms of quality of integration into automation controllers, the pro and pro-sumer stuff is better on that front as well (where by pro-sumer I means that it's really pro level stuff but 'sumer friendly.)
I always argue for something like Radio RA2, but it may be out of your budget, I dunno. As always, you get what you pay for, and you often end up paying for what you got, one way or another.
@LarrylLix How does the type of bulb relate to a lack of neutral?  I've never heard that mentioned, before.
I'm actually not interested in keeping any of my X-10 bits.  I find that they're just not reliable enough.
@Dean Roddy RadioRA 2.  Now, there's another to research :)  What do you like about it better than the others?  Where would you suggest I purchase those?  I'm seeing some wild prices on Amazon.  The few other links I've clicked on all had "Call for prices."
Also, I can't tell if the dimmers would work without a neutral.
Switches like the old X10 WS12A or WS477. Steal power through the load and most don't play nice with LED and CFL type loads.
Though that is a good thing to check. Insteon devices require a Neutral in the switch box. Others may also. So Insteon switches and keypads will not work with out a neutral in the switch box. There are ways to rewire the switch box to provide Line and Neutral and cap off the Load wire. Then use a fixture module linked to the switch to operate the light. Insteon does have a single model for two wire dimmer wiring but it also has the limitation of load type.
The Insteon dim commands with X10 are Preset Dim. Real X10 and X10Pro dimmers do not respond to a Preset Dim command. Only Extended Dim or the original On to 100% and dim down with a stream of dim commands.
Welcome to Cocoontech Drake. 
Lots of nice people here which are passionate about automation and concurrently are DIYers. 
Ask your questions and enjoy the ride to updating your stuff. 
Here I have migrated from X10 to Insteon to UPB for my lighting switches.
I am still a bit on the fence such that I utilized different hardware controllers connected to my software / firmware stuff.
My firmware box(s) talk to X10 (via Volp X10 stuff), UPB and Z-Wave.  (and Zigbee)
My software talks to X10, Insteon, UPB, Z-Wave and Zigbee today.
My preference is powerline over wireless or wireless / powerline hybrid. 
Software will provide you with the opportunity to play with a variety of different hardware controllers. 
Most of the automation hubs out there today do multiple wireless protocals.
One software box here talks to one Digi USB hub which talks to 7 automation USB devices and two Digi 8 serial port Edigeports providing me with some 16 plus 7 hardware devices on the wire.  That and play with USB / serial devices on the network (Lantronix and Digi).
The software works fine with the conconcurrent hardware connections, multiple scripts (and hardware plugins), multiple variables.
The above said you can "test" the waters of the various automation devices using software.
An automated switch is just that and will/can be the most expensive piece of the lighting automation. 
Relating to UPB here it has been a cost of $50 to $200 per switch times however many switches I have.  WAF plays in to this stuff relating to justification/practicality of said switch price to an unautomated conventional switch.
Today running (testing) a tiny Rasberry Pi 2 running wheezy and talking to a variety of automation hardware controllers.   It's been going now for over a year with no hiccups.  That said the OS is running on a microSD card which is backed up.   Well now too use an RPi2 for my Davis Weather station software and an Arm based CPU for my irrigation stuff.
Doing a bit of hub and spoke lately talking to the mothership. 
IE: yesterday configured one little mini pc based on the Atom quad core Baytrail computer.  This mini box (~$100) is running WIndows 10 32bit mode on a 32Gb MMC chip talking to the big box automation mothership which is running Ubuntu 14.04 64 bit and a VB of Wintel Server.  Tinkering here have purchased a few Kinects and one Amazon Echo and a multitouch screen.  Last nights testing was running the Amazon Echo application (sans Echo), Kinect and multiouch (with a custom designed touchscreen).  I can ask Alexa (or any name I choose for the Amazon Application) to do a wiki search or tell me the weather while waving my hands to change screens or telling (Microsoft SAPI speech font / VR) mothership to turn on a light via the Kinect. 
Not totally sure if I am going to use it.  (I am trying to do much of this stuff with no dependencies on stuff outside of my home).
Here I primarily utilize Microsoft SAPI speech (well have a collection of domestic and international voice fonts which I like to play with).  I do prefer my in home / in house voice fonts and now able to take advantage of the cloud stuff.
I want at home AI and I want to see an animated character pop up when I talk to the multitouch screen.  Not there yet.  Most of the fun has been getting to this point rather than using it if that makes any sense?
The above said you can "test" the waters of the various automation devices using software which can be considered a sure bet providing you with the ability to have the flexibility to choose.
X10 units are good where one way communications are good enough.
      eg: China Cabinet light. What are the consequences of this failing?
You can't get cheaper than what you are abandoning.
Here is a whitepaper on most protocols. Forum won't allow links so you'll have to cut'n paste
Yeah here basically was thrilled with just being able to remote control a light switch in the 1980's.  (in the late 70's) just had the X10 switches being controlled by a timer providing a lived in look to a home far away lived in only part time.
One way and I couldn't really tell if it was on unless I saw it.  It didn't really matter to me though.
I appreciate the thoughtful replies I'm getting.
The frustrating part of the unreliability for me is that when it fails, it usually continues to fail for a couple of days.  Then, magically, it starts working, again.  I see this behavior both with the wired controller, and the wireless keypad when talking to two of the switches.  The appliance module is rock solid during these episodes.
In addition, I have one location where the switch hears on commands, but not off.  I have one spare switch that I swapped out, and it's behaving the same.  Dunno if it's something about that location, or if I have two half-dead switches.
And, as I said, the delay is annoying.  I have another switch that ramps the light up and down.  I've found I really dislike that.  I have to hold the button on the controller for literally at least one second before I'm sure that it is actually responding.  But, even the instant-on devices have a noticeable lag.
So, yeah, the X-10 stuff was so cheap that it was almost scary to wire them in.  But, I am tired of them.  I'm ready to spend a little more and upgrade.
It's just that this niche has exploded to the point that it's bewildering.  Especially since it's pretty obvious that there are there are ongoing compatibility and reliability issues for the budget-conscious DIYer.  I'm hoping that asking here will help me to avoid some of the more common pitfalls.
For example, what is it that people here don't like about Z-Wave?  Is it that it's so unreliable as to fall to bad X-10 levels?  Or, poor compatibility between manufacturers?  Something else I haven't thought of?
I guess one question I need to ask is, does anyone else here have a no-neutral setup?  Or, know someone at least first- or second-hand who has dealt with it, and has product suggestions?  Or, am I pretty much on my own, for that?  I'm really having trouble finding search phrases to find compatible parts.  Or, even mentions of it in the product blurbs.
I haven't looked it up, and I hope you don't mind me asking here.  For the UPB, in order for the computer to communicate with them, do I need to run a wire to an adapter that bypasses a surge protector power strip, like X-10?  Or, are there wireless modules that can put the computer onto the power line network?

On but not off. Can be a weak power line signal to the device and the load is making enough noise to prevent the off from being received. Some CFLs are known to be noise makers.
Do you have an X10 passive phase coupler or coupler/repeater?
Jeff Volp has fixed the X10 stuff (now X10 on steroids).  I still utilize X10 for the Christmas lighting.
Look here.
XTB Home
Jeff's X10 stuff talks to two phases now. 
@BLH  I guess we can fit a little troubleshooting in here :)  Just to clarify, the switch that's not working is the bathroom light.  It currently controls two LEDs.  For years, the the original switch worked.  Then, that switch got stuck on.  It even ignored the button.  When I swapped that one out, the next two have ignored the off.  I'm pretty sure one of those had failed to obey the off signal while it was in the vanity area.  I hadn't thrown it out, but I had marked it.  (I had originally bought a pack of 6 from, way back when, so that's how I had a spare or two.)
I have one or two CFLs on that same circuit, in the vanity area.  And, the big CFL lighting the bedroom, but I think that big one is on a different circuit in the same phase.  The off is ignored even if all the other lights are off.  So, there may be something causing noise, but I don't think it's the CFLs.
Is there a sub-$100 device I can get that will give me an idea of the noise on a circuit?
And, no, I do not have a phase coupler/repeater.  I got lucky that the house codes I chose for the locations I wanted all happened to be on the same side.  I was thinking of getting one of those that just takes the place of two breakers.  Does anyone have experience with any of those?
@picta, thanks for the pointer.  Do all of them work without neutral?  Or just some of them?  I skimmed past one item on Amazon that had "neutral" in the title.  But, nothing in the description on what was meant by that.
I can't tell from the marketing material.  Is Caseta different than Radio RA2?  Or, is it the same thing, just labeled different?  Cosmetically, it looks the same on the outside as the Radio RA2 stuff I was looking at on the site.
Installing a phase coupler or repeater can make a huge difference in the reliability of your X10 system.  Also, adding a filter to noisy appliances can also help.
I've found that there are some LED and CFL bulbs (mostly inexpensive ones, but not always) that generate a lot of noise that interferes with X10 signals, so that could be part of your problem, too. The easy fix for that is to use a different brand of bulb that generates less noise.
In addition to the repeaters that XTB sells, they also have 2 noise meters.  The kit form of the non-Pro meter meets your $100 requirement. I've used the Pro version of the meter and it is a great device to have.
I have the XTB-IIR coupler repeater.
Blasts over a 10 volt X10 signal back on both Lines.
My XTBM shows the lowest X10 signal in my home as 1.2 volts.
The XTB-IIR respects Insteon power line signals. My older Insteon Modules can also have an X10 address added to them. So I can still use a HR12A Palm Pad to control them and use a few of the Chime Modules.
I understand Smartlabs is removing X10 support from most of the present models.
The Troubleshooting section of the XTB Home site has great information in it.