Imanishi #400 "Latte"
My initial impression after a few knives
First off, I do indeed have my preference of water stone brands as some have characteristics that allow them to work well with a wide variety of steels while other brands may mesh better with a few steels and not so much with others. There are as many results from stones as there are sharpeners; creating a subjective opinion of one particular stone which may or may not translate into a useful review/recommendation for another user. The primary values I usually look for are: sharpening speed (how quickly a stone of its rated grit removes metal), and ability to create an aesthetic contrast on clad knives. While I feel these are important, they are not necessarily factors that give a stone a "pass / fail" in regards to quality or value. An example might be some stones may cut more slowly but give a more consistent or shallow scratch pattern allowing larger jumps in grits, achieving a final polish sooner which in turn, may ultimately speed up the sharpening and polishing process. When the multitude of factors [sometimes] align correctly, a very favorable result can occur. Quite simply, what works well for one, may not work so well for another. A negative review is important feedback but this is no reason to completely disregard a stone before trying it for a while and develop your own personal opinion.
However I think that almost all stones have a better use or purpose