A Taxonomy of Folders (Commuter, Lifestyle, and Packing)
I'd say there are three main types of folders out there: commuter, lifestyle, and packing. Each gives a different order of priority for the ideal folding bike qualities of compactness (usually defined as the volume of the smallest box the bike can fit in), ride quality (comfort, speed, handling, and generally the ability to immitate a conventional bike...even in those controversial aspects where conventional bikes may actually be inferior), ergonomics (the folded package's ability to mesh well with life situations without needing to be abandoned on the wayside). In terms of these qualities the priorities are:
2. Ride quality
3. Ride quality
1. Ride quality
And here is a short list of folders which fit into each category:
-Most Bike Fridays
-Large wheeled Dahons
Now this isn't to say that all of these bikes have exactly these priorities (many of them probably have #2 and #3 reversed), but I think a lot of the disagreement and confusion in this forum boils down to a misunderstanding over which subclass of folding bike is most important or of primary interest.
In particular I think a lot of the criticism directed at particular folders or folders in general is really intended for one subclass (for example, I've read comments that "folding bikes do not offer a good compromise compared to conventional bikes" or that "the Brompton is the best overall") or even the wrong subclass ("the Strida is unrideable"). Also I think a lot of contradictory advice is given to people who don't understand the distinctions between these subclasses (often people are given suggestions from the Stridas to Dahons to Bike Fridays because they say they want a good ride, a small fold, and good ergonomics without specifying their priorities). So I think we would all do well to keep these subclasses in our discussions.