Fujiwara FKM and Suisin Western Inox are very similar; except the Suisiun has much better F&F, and slightly better ergonomics. The FKM is fine; but the Suisun really is well made. Edge taking and holding qualities for both knives are adequate but unexceptional.
Richmond Artifex is a nice piece of alloy. I prefer the handle to the Fujiwara's in terms of comfort, but it's certainly not as nice looking. For a stainless knife, edge taking -- including the fell of the knife on the stones is excellent. The Artifex is more robust than either the Fujiwara or the Suisun. F&F is okay, but nothing to write home about. Don't be surprised if you find grind marks on the blade left by the knife making machine; but not a big deal because any effort at aesthetic is non-existent. However, homely utility is the knife's charm.
Typical of Lamson knives, OOTB edge quality can be variable. If you're going to use a CC electric anyway, you might as well skip the extra cost, "in-house" new-knife sharpening. If you're going to buy some sort of sharpening system that has a learning curve, buy the sharpening.
No. You don't have to spend as much money on the petty as on the gyuto. Still, since you're looking at "entry level" stainless gyuto, you're not going to find many good, cheaper choices. Artifex and FKM are both nice choices.
Chef's Choice electric sharpeners are extremely easy to learn and use, but they are not perfect. The best things which may be said about them is that in exchange for barely adequate sharpening, they are reasonably priced, fast, and so convenient they get used as often as they should. On the other hand, a CC edge is adequate at best.
Edge quality, okay to begin with, improves slightly as the abrasive wear in, and then begins to degrade as (a) the sharpeners get dirty and load up and (b) as the stones start to wear (those aren't the same things). You have to clean the machine regularly to keep it working well. If I recall correctly, the Model XV Trizor 15 has a setting for cleaning and dressing the stones. The stones should last for a few years at least before they get too worn down. They're not user replaceable (at least they're not made to be); and I'm not sure if Edgecraft will do it for you or not.
The XV is a three stage sharpener. The first stage is very coarse and after the first time you establish the CC edge, it should only be used occasionally. The final, polishing stage is a flexible wheel which should not only be used to finish your knives after every sharpening session, but for frequent be used for "touch-ups" and -- like you'd use a steel -- to true blades which get dinged out of true. The polished finish is, as you'd expect, adequate but not very good. The XV's "Trizor" edge shape is practically convex, and similarly durable.
Unlike old fashioned "can-opener" type electrics, CCs will not eat your knives as long as you use them correctly by applying very gentle to the knife while pulling it through at a moderate speed.
In my evolving opinion, CCs are better than any other home sharpening strategy other than bench stones or a good tool and jig system (like an Edge Pro). And, yes, that specifically includes the Spyderco Sharpmaker and the Minos pull-throughs. I was high on the Minos Plus3 for a long time, but after using one for not much more than a year my Northern California daughter started bringing her knives back to me when she visits SoCal.
Edited by boar_d_laze - 7/18/13 at 7:09am