They really do. I think they are like comparing a bic biro to a fountain pen. The bic doesn't last long, and you throw it away pretty soon. The fountain pen, you have to look after, but it works so much better, and should last forever.
The square taper BB cartridges last maybe a year and a half, then they don't work quite perfectly, and 6 months on, they make noises, get play, and generally become a nuisance and have to be thrown away. The Octalink ones are the same, except that they last even less well, due to the smaller bb's.
However, a good quality cup and cone BB lasts forever- you just have to repack it with fresh BB's once a year. You can check the adjustment, and keep it perfect all the time. I've got a new one with which the cups screw in with a Shimano splined BB tool, and it has an excellent rubber seal to keep grit from getting in along the spindle. Must be just as well sealed as the sealed cartridge kind, as long as you use one of the little concertina thingies in it.
I think for anyone putting a lot of miles in on a bike, who is capable of at least basic bike maintenance, a traditional BB assembly can offer much better performance, as well as saving a lot of money in the long run.