PCCC - Welcome to the "dark side" of the EpicSki forums!
Renting first is obvious, but what is not obvious is that most rental fleets have beginner boards that are very flexible and have high beveled edges to help minimize those nasty edge catches. If you're not beyond the raw beginner stage but still having fun when you chose to get a board, you're going to want to get one of these beginner (e.g. Burton LTR or Rossi Accelerator) boards. But you'll probably be beyond that stage. If you've got any skateboard, wakeboard or surfing experience, you'll probably pick up riding much quicker than the average Joe. If you're just average, you'll still want a relatively shorter and more flexible board. One thing for sure is that you'll want a "freeride" type board (which is directional/all mountain) vs a "freestyle" type board (which is intended for tricks/parks/pipes) or an "alpine" board (which is for carving/racing). For boots, the primary concern is comfort, but stiffness (beginners want less stiffness), type of lacing system, weight and durability may also be factors to consider. For bindings, there are some options on strap systems. My opinion is that a beginner would be more concerned about ease of use of the binding and binding durability than binding performance.
It's hard to recommend a specific brand/model for boards/boots/bindings because there are hundreds of choices. You might want to consult a buyer's guide like this one
to at least choose the features you want, then go shopping. A good board shop in your area can help you choose. There are several online shops that offer personal service to help as well. The House
is a good place to start. I have several online sources listed on my "where to buy page"
on my personal web site.