The SL's set the bar for ease of use. Both clipping in and releasing are a snap, and become second nature to you after a short time. I use these for both mountain and road riding. Maintenance is minimal. Once clipped in, the feel is rock solid on the pedals. No platform needed!
none for me. Some may not like that you only have two "settings" for release. I consider the simplicity of it to be a welcome feature... one less thing to go wrong on the trails.
I've never used any other clipless system. The cast stainless cage pedals are worth the modest premium over the cheaper ones that use bend metal.