The thing about the Performer is it's almost the perfect "everything" grill. I think if you look in most grill guy's backyards, you'll find a grill, some sort of work space, some sort of storage rack, some way to manage ashes, some method of starting fires, etc.
The Performer does all of these things plus some I'm forgetting. It's not that it doesn't any of these things in a special way, it just does it all in once place in one convenient footprint. That's why I think the Performers are one of the best grill values.
Regarding the starter system. I would pay more for it...even though the side burner on my gasser works a lot faster, It's still a very convenient option and if I ever ended up without my gasser, I would haven't to track down newpaper to use the chimney starter (not that you need a chimney...but it does light faster).
Honestly, the only thing I really dislike about the performer is the stupid lid holder doesn't get the lid all the way out of the way. Seems like such an easy fix that i can't believe they don't just do it. Even the lid holder on my smokey Joe Gold works better than this one. Not a deal breaker but something to be aware of. It would probably be an even bigger pain if you happen to be left handed.