Thanks for all the responses. Based upon the replies it appears as though I may not have properly stated my case, so I'll try and clarify as best as I can (and respond to some key individual points as well).
Keep in mind when you get responses that there are folks with $100K into their systems that are still looking for your want list.
That's actually why I'm here, because this place seems to be jam packed with true audiophiles...
250 is a very small budget, especially since it sounds like you're using this with your computer and don't have amplification.
You are indeed correct; neither the MP3 player nor the laptop provide any amplification, which is why I was looking for a 2.1 system more geared towards that style of environment (as opposed to AV type equipment, where amplification is virtually mandatory).
With your restraints I'd have to ask if headphones are an option
Unfortunately, I'm not always tethered to the computer/MP3 player while listening to music. Often times I'll be in the room doing something else and need to maintain my mobility, so given that headphones aren't going to be a workable solution.
Otherwise I guess something like the M-Audio AV30s paired with a Velodyne VX-11
It's interesting you mention the VX 11; I actually owned one for several years, until the amp got cooked by a power surge from a lightning storm. But at 15"x12"x17" that's physically at least twice as large as the space I have to put it, and would be way overkill when sitting right on top of it.
The M-Audio -- and Behringer Wrager mentions -- are among the active monitors I did look at. Along with NHT, Samson Audio, DynAudio, AudioEngine, Neuman, and countless others. The problem was always one (or more) of the following; too much money, too large or not enough low end.
The only one of those I really have any experience with is the AudioEngine 5. I found that it produced a remarkable amount of spectacular sound from a surprisingly small package. The only drawback was the bottom end; it just felt like the lower octaves were missing. And they were, which should be no surprise given the size of the cabinet and the woofer. But as far as the overall clarity? I was duly impressed.
I very seriously considered piecing something together myself, which consisted of a pair of active satellites and a sub. Problem was the stand-alone sub's were all way too large. Which is why something like the AE Aego M seemed perfect, other then the fact it's been discontinued of course. It was small enough to fit in the space I have, while still providing reasonable sound quality.
Essentially, that's the type of thing I'm looking for. While I'd love to go up the scale a bit more, space and budget prevent me from doing that. If I found something in a similar form factor to the Aego M then I could push the budget some -- because ultimately I would like to have a system that sounds decent -- but the space issue is not really something I can overcome easily.