No one can (should) suggest any one helmet model to you. That said, I find the quality of Arai, Shoei, AGV, and Shark helmet manufacturers to be top notch. KBC, HJC, and Nolan are okay too.
Regardless of whether the helmet is for track use or road use, the most important thing is that the shell shape matches your head shape. No one helmet brand/model line will fit exactly like the others, so it is best to try several brands and models on to compare. One brand will always fit you better than the others. If you aren't comfortable in the helmet, you'll hate it... no matter how expensive it is.
After that, it is a matter of establishing how much you want to spend on things like higher end: liners, shell materials, ventilation systems, paint, etc.
If the helmet doesn't need many road manners, consider going for a lighter/louder race-style lid. You should wear ear plugs, of course. It can get hot out there, so a good ventilation system and washable liner are nice to have too, but none of this is necessary.
I've got a Roof Diversion that I've never ever worn... I always liked them but not the price and bought it on clearance mail order... It's an XL and doesn't fit me and I can't return it since it was a clearance item (so much for saving cash). If it's the right size, I'll sell it to you (or anybody) for 150 bucks including shipping!!!!! What a deal, eh? They go for 400+ and even on clearance was well north of 200... Too bad it's completely worthless if don't fit ya! It's gloss black, here's the specs on it:
If you're not looking to pay shoei, arai, etc... prices. Helmets like KBC's VR-1/2 & racer-1, HJC's AC-11, or Scorpion's EXO-700 all are DOT/SNELL 2000 certified and can be had for for prices under $250. I have a VR-1 and have done a few track days with no problems other than fogging the face shield.
IICON- snell and dot approved. washable linings good vents reasonable price. They make good gloves, too. Don't know much about the rest but if the gloves and helmets are good the rest probably doesn't suck.
Read an article in one of the rags, either May or June, about helments. Turns out your expensive one's aren't as good to your noggin' because they are too hard on the inside and stop your head too quickly, causing internal issues. Some of the cheaper models scored really well, actually won the contest. If you can find last couple months mags., it's one of the popular one's, can't remember which one. Good article.
This is a vast oversimplification of a very complex issue that was thoroughly and intelligently vetted in Motorcyclist (which I believe is the article you are referring to).
Whether or not a very hard shell protects better or worse depends on the criteria by which one evaluates the helmet. I will simply refer the curious to the May issue of Motorcyclist or to the reader feedback in our own Spring Helmet Review.
I had a VR1 for a couple years, and I wasn't too impressed with its aerodynamic properties - it jerked my noggin around too much with various windblasts, and it was pretty noisy. (I ride an unfaired bike with a slightly leaned torso position.) It's okay with 'clean' air, but cross-gusts didn't get along with it at all. My ancient AGV was more stable at speed. The VR1's a decent helmet for the price, but it started to show its age quite rapidly.
I just picked up last year's Icon Alliance on a big-time clearance, and I'm happy on all fronts aside from the lack of removable lining, which I'll accept in a sub-$100 helmet.