Insofar, I've only used Wacom products for tablets. I started on a Graphire 4 (discontinued and replaced with the Bamboo line) for a 100-something bucks. I used it for a little over five years. It held up great, I never had to replace the nib, and I never had a single problem with it.
About a month and a half ago I got an Intuous 4, and I like that a lot. The texture on the tablet itself is supposed to mimic paper, which is different from the Graphire 4's surface, which was just smooth plastic. I still might prefer the smooth surface to the textured surface, but I also know that I still haven't fully gotten used to it.
When I first got my tblet, I was awful with it. My lines were shaky, and my first thought was, "Oh, crap, I just spent all this money on something I'm gonna hate!" But after a month or two of obsessive use, I got used to it. XD