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The primary thing that a Gigapan brings to the table is to ability to do the turning for you in a large, multiple-frame, high resolution pano. It doesn't do that any better than you could manually, it just saves you the trouble of having to do it. All the other things involved in taking a good panorama still need to be done by you: determining the no parallax point (NPP) of the lenses you will use, and calibrating the camera mounting accordingly, setting it up properly for the scene, stitching, blending and editing the results, etc. Unless you are contemplating a large and complex pano, the Gigapan is unnecessary and in my opinion not worth the trouble of hauling around (even in a car) and setting up. (But then people say the same about the pano bracket that I consider essential, so who am I to judge?!)
As noted in my first message, even a calibrated pano bracket isn't needed for all panos; for subject matter without major differences in distance, parallax may not be an issue and you can get away without one. But in order to be prepared for any panorama I might want to do, I always have a bracket (I use a hybridized Nodal Ninja) and a table/chart of the NPP for the lenses I might use at their full range of focal length. I might not always need it, but when I do, I've got it.
The limitation of single-rail "nodal slides" is that they really can only be use with precision when pointed straight ahead, with the horizon bisecting the frame. Because any tilting of the tripod head in order to pitch the camera up or down is not centered on the NPP of the lens, parallax errors can be introduced. Again, these may not be significant or fatal errors, and with some trouble one can readjust the distance of the camera on the slide to recenter the lens. But they can't be as precise as brackets that allow independent adjustment of the position of the lens in both X and Z axes.
There are a number of good pano brackets, including the several models of Nodal Ninja, but I don't want to get into comparing them. For what its worth I found I could use my Acratech GP-S ball head inverted to both level and provide for rotation. That allowed me to remove the (relatively heavy) rotator from my old NN3 rails, replace it with an Arca Swiss plate, and then affix an Ara Swiss clamp to the upper arm to hold the camera. This is lighter, more compact, and less expensive than fully modular A-S-based kits sold by Nodal Ninja, RRS, and others. It still has an impact on the weight of my full hiking kit, but for me it is reasonable and worth it.
If you aren't already using an Arca-Swiss system for your tripod, then this would obviously be a major change for you. But Nodal Ninja still has a couple of brackets (including the updated NN3) that are based on 1/4-20 threads, which should work with your current setup.
So I'd tend to concur that the most efficient way to start taking panoramas regularly is to invest in a relatively simple bracket system rather than the fancier options. As your needs and style evolve you'll discover whether you need or want to move to a different approach.