Hydro is a ton better than gear. I have a hydro mower. Gears you can't go in reverse without shifting, and to me that seems like a pain in the but! Gears are definitely cheaper, but Hydro is more expensive and the way to go. Gear drive belts slip in the rain. That's just my advice to you. If you go gear however, I've heard that the Exmark Metro and Scag can be nice. Let me know what you decide!