I have finally made the move from shared hosting to a dedicated server. I ordered the managed dedicated web hosting package called "Managed Server II" for $79 per month from 1&1. For $79 per month, you get a P4, 2.4 GHz machine with 512MB of RAM. They called this a Managed Dedicated Server, but it is really more like a shared hosting package, with your account being the only one on the machine. So there are limits to what you can install and configure, but the control panel seems pretty decent and does enable you to changed some "advanced" settings such process timeouts and other performance metrics. For only $59, you can get the same on a Celeron 2.0 Ghz with 256 RAM. Or, if you are more technical than me, and comfortable with Linux, you can get a "Root Server" starting from only $49 per month (note that Root Server packages only include support for hardware issues). For more information, click here (scroll down and click on "Dedicated Server").
My experience so far has been good, but time will tell. The price is right for what I need. With 500,000+ visitors and 3,000,000 page views, I need a machine dedicated to my sites. I will update this entry as time goes by, including both postive and negative feedback. I have had bad experiences with other web hosts (stay away from Webserve and Hypermart), and I know that reading about the experiences of others can be a good way to know what you are getting into.
If you are interested in learning more about the managed dedicated web hosting packages from 1&1, click here.