I have a venerable old Wacom ArtPad II that I have used on a daily basis since I bought it about six or seven years ago. It's still going strong, and there is no way I would go back to a mouse!
I bought a cheaper pad a few months ago to use on a different system. The thinking was that, although it was a lot cheaper than the Wacom components, maybe technology had caught up over the years and even the cheapies might be o.k. Big mistake! It's back in it's box collecting dust.
The pen felt cheap 'n nasty and the thing was awkward to use. Nowhere near as accurate as the old Wacom.
One thing about the size of the pad. To some extent this will depend upon exactly what you want to do with it, but remember that the pad effectively clones the screen. This means that if you want to move the pointer to the top left of the screen, the pen must be moved to the top left of the pad. Sounds obvious, but if you get a giant pad, your arm will have to move a long way to cover it all. Mine is the small, approx 4.5 * 5 inches. I can cover the whole area from wrist movements without having to lift my elbow off the desk. If you are using the thing all day long this will be appreciated.
Using it with Paint Shop Pro, Dreamweaver, Fireworks as well as general word processing etc. I have had no problems and I am pleased that I bought the smaller pad. It is more than accurate enough.