I just stumbled upon this thread today, but as I have recently taken up alt processes myself, I can offer a few observations from the perspective of the recently initiated.
I began with the Van Dyke Brown process and found it very pleasing, though I do feel in retrospect that my results would have been better had I used a different paper to print on. If you are contemplating platinum as a future endeavor (as I was at the time) it is a nice starting point to get you used to the printing out-concept as well as coating, etc.
I tried the kalllitype process next, and found it to be difficult. (Granted, I did not give it much time.) From images I have seen reproduced, it is obvious that this process is capapble to extraordinary results in the right hands.
So, slightly humbled by the kallitype process, I took the big step and ordered the chemicals necessary to try the Dreaded, Expensive, Magical, Nearly Impossible, Time-Consuming Palladium printing. I started with palladium mainly because using any platinum seemd a bit to costly at the outset. Here are my observations (these are personal observations only, so your results may vary):
1. It is NOT difficult. If anything, it is a bit easier than silver printing. I am far from a master, and the second print I processed was very nice (if I say so myself). Dick Arenz and Carl Weese both have great books on the process. Do get these if you are interested in the process.
2. It is NOT time-consuming (at least not in terms of the time required to make a print. It may be time cosuming when you become obsessed with it!. I can coat paper, expose, and process a print in under an hour, and most of that time is spent standing around waiting -- and it can be done with the lights on.
3. It is really not that expensive. It certainly is not cheap, but then no one would say that photography is a cheap hobby! I do not think it is very much more expensive than silver printing. When using conventional silver paper, I usually go through several sheets (at best) before I get an acceptable print, not to mention a good one. With palladium, I can often do this in one sheet!
Try it. If you use small negatives (2 1/4x 2 1/4 or 4/5) the chemistry will last you quite a while. I think I calculated that for roughtly $100 you can whip up 45 ml of palladium chloride, which should be enough to coat 36 or so 8x10s (or 124 4x5s!. That's not too bad if you do the division.