Yes, everything is "hand-crafted" to the specific research question, but there are a couple of examples that you can use and modify on the respective websites. I recommend starting this ways.
Matlab runs on all platforms, but the other programs are limited to PCs I think.
I was recently asked the same question by a QS friend, Yoni, and this was my answer:
I can't say much about NeuroSky it seems like they removed all but the most recent products from their store, maybe their more recent devices are better.
I've also pre-ordered the Muse, but it'll take a while until it's there.
EPOC is a decent device, but you might want to modify the device in order for it to give good signals with all electrodes. There are some nice libraries to work with Android.
What I'm a big fan of is are the** truesense devices**. (op-innovations.com) At least with a previous version of the device you had to be very careful to not completely drain the batteries, (inherent drawback of otherwise great Li-Ion batteries) but I think this is fixed in the more recent versions. You get 11-16hrs of runtime, rawdata (EDF+ format!) from 1ch EXG, 3 axis accelerometer, plus a remote to set markers. For 45 USD per device. That's unmatched and will remain so for a good while. As far as I can tell, data quality is decent enough. You really get only 1 channel on the forehead, but you can wear multiple at a time and combine datasets. I haven't tried measuring through hair, but I'm sceptical it'll work well. If you need a cheap device that works, and you're comfortable with handling raw data, buy 5 of those rather than a single EPOC/Muse/Melon what have you.
You can also buy an OpenEEG from Olimex if you're comfortable handling electronics, data quality is very good. 2-6 channels EEG. https://www.olimex.com/Products/EEG/OpenEEG/
If you can spend more:
http://www.brainproducts.com/productdetails.php?id=1 (is what I've been using at work)