before shelling out the cash, i just have one last questoin (sorry)

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It measures the salinity. Kinda like the swing arm hydrometers but ALOT more accurate. the swing arms are like $15 so its not much more to get a quality device. :)
does the test kit measure saliniaty
how do i minipulate salinity
salinity is the level of salt in your water. When you mix it that determines the salinity. It won't be included in any of those test kits for regular water parameters.

here is a hydrometer
Red Sea Hydrometer With Thermometer - AquaCave

here is the refractrometer

Vertex Salinity Refractometer with ATC - AquaCave

With the hydrometer you dunk it into the water and the little arm will go to where the salinity level is at. With a refractometer you just put some water on the glass and close the lid and look into a light and the salinity will be shown by a black line.
What type of salt should I get
Where do I get it
How much should I get
What type of salt should I get
Where do I get it
How much should I get

Lots of different types and people have opinions about all of them. I use instant ocean. As for where to get it, any LFS or any of the on-line sites sell it. You will need approximately 1/2 cup of salt for every gallon of water. So, you need enough to mix all the intial water and enough to be able to do some PWC (partial water changes) as you go foward. PWC should be at 10% of the tank. I do mine once a week, others just when the see the nitrates start to climb above a certain level.
I like red sea salt. I use 1/3 to 1/2 a cup of salt per gallon. Will get you to about 1.023 specific gravity.
You can find 55 gallons worth of salt for $20. Check foster and smith aquatics.
I paid about $50 for a case of Instant Ocean. That will make up to 200 gallons I think. Much better than buying the smaller bags in my opinion. You can also get it in a bucket but I think that only makes about 250 gallons and is almost the same price.
Same price for bucket @ 160 gallons

At the LFS I bought from they were the same price but the box gives you a little more. It also comes in four sealed bags so when you open one, the others stay sealed and no moisture can get it. When I open a bag I put the entire contents in two Zip Lock freezer bags so I can keep the air and moisture out and it is easier to handle.
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