If you decide that buying your own kit is the way forward, then purchasing it in resort is probably your best bet. You will find a wider choice of models and most shops give you the opportunity to test different models before you buy.
It is wise to do some research and try to establish which models interest you before you buy. Most snow sports magazines and online guides run regular articles on the latest ski and snowboarding gear providing an unbiased, professional opinion. There are also trade shows like the London Ski Show and demo centres at events like The Rock on Snowboard Tour where you can ask professional advice and test equipment for yourself.