thinking about buying a bass....

I've been playing guitar for a little while now and I was thinking about picking up a bass to fuck around with.  I've been playing my friend's for a while and it's pretty fun.

I am thinking maybe $600 total for the bass and amp.  I don't want to spend too much because I don't plan on really playing it seriously, but I don't want anything shitty either.  Any recommendations? 

I know a little about bass guitars... I had my eye on the 4 string Dean ML Metalman, either the regular one (single passive pickup, $200) or the 2A (2 active pickups, $300).  Mainly because they get good reviews, look cool and supposedly have good action for the price.  Do active pickups really make a difference with basses?  The only one I've played is active, so I don't really have any basis for comparison.

I am pretty clueless on the amp, however.  I wouldn't mind something with a couple effects, maybe, just for convenience, but that doesn't really matter too much.

I'm primarily interested in metal, but I want it to be somewhat versatile, since it will probably be the only one I buy, at least for a long time.  I am pretty big, so size and weight don't concern me. 

 I own a Dean Edge 10 4 string with active pickups.  Got for $100 on Ebay.  Sound is great.  I figured the finish or something would have to be bad, it's not.  Well worth $100.  Amp-wise I'm not sure if you really need one if you are just messing with it at home.  That is, if you have a decent non-micro guitar amp already .  If you get a bass I'd test it on your current amp before buying another.

Check out Peavey Grind basses also - $300 - $400 range but very good quality.  I have a friend who gigs with the 5 string, loves it