After reading on the topic of bitcoin for the past few hours I've heard a few terms again and again: mining with the CPU (pointless as of today), GPU mining (lots of people doing this), and then ASIC, and FPGA (field-programmable gate array).
With just a few hours experience in this, and although I've obviously seen the wiki's here and there which compare this hardware to that, the answer to this question could take into account some real-world factors, especially concerning the availability of the ASIC units (which are said to be much more efficient). E.g., there's talk of one particular one shipping, yet orders aren't being filled, doubts as to if they ever will be, etc.
So with that, an ASIC might be worth less consideration than another setup. The answer I'm looking addresses these different types of hardware (excluding CPU which we know are worthless) and which one might be right for someone who wants to join in on bitcoin hobby-wise, and eventually break even in terms of investment (within say, a year). This is only considering hardware and not pools, which I'm aware of.