You said, "And on that note, let's not go all soft, I had hoped I could roust a debate about the best gear option (if not here, where?)."
Point taken. I resisted commenting on that part of your message because 75% of my hiking trips are done solo--and I thought that those who hike regularly with a partner could offer more along that line. But about 25% of my hiking trips are as part of a small group (I will be doing the JMT late in the season with a group of friends), so I'll give it a try.
I do have several two-person shelters, but most are too small for your intended use. I sometimes use, and share, a pyramid shelter when I'm on a trip with friends, and I think that type of shelter could work well for you. Pyramids are relative easy to pitch, and they function as a tent if/when you pair them with an inner (the MLD Duomid would be my current first choice for a pyramid shelter).
I recently purchased a cuben TrailStar (and a couple of bug shelters to try with it--I'll probably end up selling at least one of the bug shelters on gear swap when I figure out which one works best for me). Since it's so new (and I' haven't made it out for a major trip yet this season) I don't have any significant experience with my TrailStar, but it's a really sweet shelter, so you might want to consider it either in silynylon or cuben as you're contemplating a new shelter. I intend to use mine primarily as a solo shelter (it's light enough to make that a practical option, and it's VERY roomy), but I could easily share it with another like-minded backpacker. There's plenty of room for two hikers (and their gear) and a dog, too.