My bad, I have a copy of v6 express and its is just a dumbed down pro. I mistakenly assumed 7 was the same. So I'm out 49 bucks. I don't see myself using this. Might as well use Lightroom and I don't like Lightroom either. At least it can watch a folder.
I'm on C1 Pro 7, and I would like to access the folder tree directly as well. Sessions are, in my opinion, not the way to go. It's a holdover from a distant past, and Phase One keeps it in the software because many pros got used to it.
The catalogs are not bad per se, they just have one of the most impractical interfaces I ever saw.
Maybe time will improve it, for example, removing the unnecessary "recent downloads" tab, and allowing a "Favorites" tab like in Adobe Bridge from which you can quickly switch to a folder hierarchy and choose a different folder.
As for now, you have to click all the way from the root folder to the folder you want, which is about 10 clicks.
But I still use C1 Pro for its great image processing quality at regular ISOs (for high ISOs Camera RAW delivers better detail)
So, you could either go to Lightroom, which is a good software, or you simply use the catalog feature in C1 Pro and pray that the developers turn this workflow nightmare into something that's practical like Adobe Bridge or Lightroom.
I am still patient, as C1 delivers outstanding detail, light, and color at regular ISOs. So, basically, I'm using the practical "you can't have it all" approach.