Phil, I hope you understand that while you have a very strong opinion about how Phase should implement file browsing and sidecar files, and while that opinion is very intelligently formed based on what would work best for you, that the system as-is DOES make sense for many users (who are therefore unlikely to post on forums regarding their lack of confusion).
What a software company does not implement a feature the way you think they should, they are rarely being moronic, and they are likely not ignoring your point of view.
Anyway, as you've discovered the most important workflow aspect to importing in C1 is that you should set up what/where you want the images to go before you push import. This may or may not make sense to you. You may or may not think it should be the way it is done. However, once you understand that rule it is a very simply rule to follow and the remainder of the file organization becomes exceedingly logical. It's one of the first things I teach in any C1 Workflow class.
To help you understand a scenario in which C1's file management is as good as it can get for certain applications/use-cases let me lay out a typical digital-tech assisted architectural interior photo shoot:
- At the start of the day the Digital Tech creates a new session called "2012_8_20-French_Villa", pre-creates several shot folders in "Captures" for the day's shot list (e.g. "Kitchen, Angle 1", "Kitchen, Angle 2", "Bedroom", "Entrance", "Exterior")
- Digital Tech plugs in an external hard drive (e.g. Lacie Rugged FW800) and, using Carbon Copy Cloaner, creates a backup of the "2012_8_20-French_Villa" session (albeit one that has no photos yet)
- Digital Tech sets up camera/computer for the first shot, right clicks on that shot folder and select "Set as Capture Folder"
- As photographer shoots the images go into the shot folder currently set as Capture Folder. In addition if any CF card based images are used (BTS, 2ndary angles, quick hand held details) then when the CF card is placed in the reader the digital tech does not have to adjust ANY settings, and can immediately push "import all" knowing that the images will go to the current Capture Folder of the currently opened session.
- Digital Tech periodically updates the backup (a "Delta" backup which only requires new/changed files be updated). Because the raw files, the cache, and the setting files are ALL 100% located inside of the session folder the digital tech ONLY needs to worry about this one folder, and if only a few new images have been captured then only those raws and the sidecar settings/cache for those raws need be copied, making for an exceedingly fast backup.
- Photographer and Digital Tech move from room to room, changing the capture folder as they go, capturing the days images.
- Photographer/Tech/AD/whomever sit down at station throughout the day and use the shot folders and smart albums (e.g. "show all green images") to edit the shoot
- Digital Tech processed out images (at any point during the day) and does not even need to go to the process tab because the images will always (by default) go to the output folder of the current shoot
- If a week later it's discovered that an image placed in the "trash" is unexpectedly valuable (e.g. it was an awful shot, but a small element is needed for retouching/compositing) then the photographer knows the image will be in the Trash of that specific session, and not in a global/central/system-trash. This also means the trash (along with every other element of the shoot) is included when the session is moved from one computer to another.
In this scenario it is demonstrably faster, more flexible, and overall better than any other application. In other scenarios the session workflow makes less sense.
Catalogs, nacent though they may be in C1, also provide a really compelling use-case for many photographer's workflows. If you don't shoot tethered and you want to be able to compare/manage many shoots/events/projects they are probably the way to go.
If neither sessions, nor catalogs, make sense for what you want to do in Capture One than you will not have an optimal experience. Usually I find the person who says that they don't like sessions hasn't received formal education on sessions nor has spent any meaningful time seeing how to make them work in their workflow. However, on occasion, someone has received that education and has spent that time and still can't make sessions work well for them - that's unfortunate, but also speaks to a fundamental reality of software: every piece of software will not be perfectly suited for every person. Some will love elements or all of bridge, others will love elements or all of LightRoom, and some will love elements or all of Capture One.
There are two realities in software:
- new versions will require a learning curve
- very new versions will have bugs
If you want to avoid as much of the learning curve as possible I suggest investing your time/money in paid training
and free education
If you want to avoid bugs in a very new version I suggest you wait until the first or second maintenance release when most of the bugs are eliminated.