Being honest the answers depend partly on your budget.
The old Blizzard 1230 MKIV is a great card, I have never needed any timing fixes (someone correct me please if they are needed with Blizzards, but I havent seen anyone else need them) or to install any software (OK I use Blizkick but dont need to)- they just work - but they are quite expensive as Steve said. I have never had any ACA cards so cannot compare.
Have a read of http://www.amibay.com/showthread.php?t=16681
if you havent already.
Installing any of the trapdoor cards for the first time is a little frightening, I will be honest - more frightening than the CF card. Once you get the hang of it its fine. Just make sure the metal shield is not touching the card.
Its all worth it though and Steve will set you up a good system if you go with him. As he said, its worth registering WHDLOAD.