Let me try to answer this question in two phases. First of all, the translation of the Bible text.
Our generation is so blessed. In contrast to former periods in history where access to the word of God was very rare, there are many good Bible translations available to us in the English language today. How we thank God for this. It is simply a fact of history to say that many have paid the ultimate price (forfeiting their very lives) so that we would have access to the word of God in our native tongue.
Because there are so many translations available to us, if the version used from the pulpit is not the same one we have brought to the service it is often difficult to follow a preacher's sermon. Therefore, it may be helpful to know that we mainly use the English Standard Version of the Bible (ESV) in our services at Kings Church here in Phoenix. I like it both for its diligent effort to be true to the original text (Hebrew in the Old Testament and koine Greek in the New) and for its great readability. Usually one of these things suffers in Bible translation, but this is not the case with the ESV. It is both highly accurate and easy to read, and these features make it a remarkable translation.
EXPLANATORY STUDY NOTES
Of course, it is the text of the Bible that is inspired not the notes we might find in the margins. This is an extremely important distinction that should always be remembered. However, it can be so helpful to have something of the historical background available to us at our fingertips, as well as useful and practical explanatory notes. Yet not every study Bible out there can be recommended. Some show very poor scholarship or else they have an agenda to articulate extreme views.
It is a high and holy calling to lead people in the things of God and great care is needed to help guide God's people in the way of truth. This is certainly the case when it comes to providing study notes in a Bible. Because of this, for many years, I would never recommend a Bible with study notes. It is better to have no notes at all, than to be steered in the wrong direction. However, in recent years, the publishing of two study Bibles have excited me greatly and I would like to see at least one of these in the hands of every English speaking Christian. In terms of the two things that I believe to be most important features of a Study Bible - accurate translation and helpful and reliable (sure guide) study notes - in my opinion, the two which are outstanding are:
1. English Standard Version Study Bible (available in a number of formats to suit most price ranges, including hardcover, trutone, bonded leather, genuine leather and even calf skin leather).
Here's a video by showing some of the features of the ESV Study Bible:
Those who purchase this Study Bible gain access to an online version. Here's a video explaining the numerous features:
2. The Reformation Study Bible (ESV) - (the ESV text along with very helpful study notes)
Here's an 8 minute video by Dr. R. C. Sproul showing the historical background as well as some of the features of the Reformation Study Bible:
*** Should you be interested, both of these study Bibles above can be obtained at a substantial discount (40%) online from www.monergismbooks.com ***