The Best sander for cutting clear is your hand , a soft block, a rubber squeegie and water...Giving a newbie a sander for clear is a sure fire way to screw everything up and they are only for production anyways...
As far as the paper goes in the finer grits 1000 -2000 a newbie wont notice any difference between them you'll need about twenty sheets or so.
Hutchins will always be the best sander on the planet at around 350.00 but IR has one thats also extremly good for half that price. I gotta admit I rarely use my hutch any more because the IR wieghs so much less and works so well but the pad is also very important the IR needs a better pad for finish work and as far as I know they both only come with pads that use sticky paper ,velcro pads and paper are the best ...
For sand paper I really prefer Fandelli for all grits...made in Mexico
Just my own personal opinions