The Smart Objects give you an astoundingly powerful process, and totally "non-destructive" (Can't Adobe just say, "Constructive"? SO much more positive...) since you're building the file easily through simple, fast access to the RAW file.
This, to my way of thinking anyway, completely overwhelms any other processor, and I have run and tested them all, just for the record...
Ted, very interesting - just a little quibble on the terminology. I think what Adobe means by "non-destructive" is that the image processing methodology does not embed changes to the original file data and destroy information through mathematical rounding errors, etc. It is not "constructive" because it doesn't add anything to the file (only creates a set of meta-data instructions applied on the fly to render the image). It is in essence defensive and therefore "non-destructive".
More important, turning to the substance of your observation, I am now using Lightroom 2, and while I haven't tried every raw converter out there (only a few and seen a few others at work), I am very impressed with the scope and depth of control this program offers for a very high percentage of what I need to do with an image. It produces very faithful scene renditions from what I can observe, and the convenience of the layout is great for iterating between organizing, ranking, developing and printing images. The main enhancement it really needs is a softproofing capability, so that once image adjustments are made under soft-proof they can go to print without the need to tweak anything more in Photoshop. Adobe is well aware of the strong client support for this capability and while I have no inside information, I have a sense that within the next year or so we will see that too in both ACR and Lightroom.
I agree with you completely about the advantage of being able to embed a seamless access to the raw file whilst in Photoshop. Saves re-doing a whole lot of work if you realise half way through a bunch of Photoshop-specific moves that you should have done something different at the raw processing stage.