Grogan, I've never been keen on ATI too, for the same reasons as you. Like you said though things are starting to look different and now I have a good reason to give ATI another try. My first choice will probably remain nVidia unless ATI blows me away.
I'm hoping their driver situation will get sorted out eventually, however they do it.
Thanks for posting, Zander!
Oh Grogan, I don't think the PAE documentation has been updated in a while. A lot of the drivers that were PAE unsafe are safe now. I had USB support compiled into my PAE kernel. But yes, it is a hack, and doesn't work with the 32bit nVidia drivers anyway.
Just ordered an ATI 3450 based card!