Vinyl windows and siding: need to make decision

I've Googled the web and Googled newsgroups, so I know that the general consensus runs somewhat against vinyl windows and (more so) vinyl siding. If I was restoring that Craftsman style house I sometimes fantasize about, or building a new, modern dream house I assure you that the word 'vinyl' would not be found near 'window,' 'siding,' or even 'flooring.' What I'm doing, is fixing up a 1970s tri-level with shoddy-from-day one aluminum siding and windows, in a neighborhood where vinyl is *most definitely* an improvement.
After getting quotes from various contractors, I'm trying to decide between two of them, either of which I think would do a good job. Both of their quotes were significantly less than other contractors who really, really pushed to get us to sign THAT VERY DAY to lock in the "huge discount" they were prepared to give us.
I must note that I have strong interest in energy conservation, so I specifically requested Energy Star qualified window products. We are replacing sliding windows with new sliders. Also replacing gutters and trim. The contractors under consideration are licensed, insured, members of the BBB (no complaints) and do their own work (no subcontractors).
Contractor #1 seems to have superior products. His quote is $3,600 higher. Contractor #2's bid includes a 'time-limited' 10% discount (his quote would still be somewhat lower without that discount). I have sufficient funds to go either way and am willing to pay more if what it buys is quality and function.
So I'm asking for opinions (details follow): Are these good products? Do you it be reasonable to pay the higher price? Should I keep looking around?
Contractor #1 provided references from neighborhoods a bit more upscale than mine. Quote was made by owner/president. He has worked in windows and siding 38 years. Michigan Remodeling Association member. They do windows, siding and trim, gutters, and doors. (Contractor is listed in the search via Crane website.)
Sunrise windows, "Ultra Plus" glass (low-E, argon filled, with special heat coating). This window is constructed with fusion-welded virgin vinyl polyurethane-filled extrusions. This window has extremely good test specs, and was also featured by a different contractor (who is not in consideration). The heat-lamp demonstration was impressive. Full lifetime, non-prorated warrantee. Energy Star compliant. *Tilt-in sashes (both sides) for cleaning.* Garden window option priced at an additional $900.
http://www.sunrise-windows.com/index.htm
Crane-board solid core siding over Tyvek. Panels are triple 6" with interlocking, integral foam insulation backing, Energy Star compliant. Matching window and corner trim is also solid core. Quote includes replacing as much as 50' of rotten wood with no extra charge. Siding feature reinforced nailing hem. R-value 4.
http://www.cranesiding.com/CraneBoard.html
Contractor #2 has done work in my neighborhood. Quote was made by salesman. Family-owned company, in business since 1965. They 'specialize in' windows and doorwalls, siding and trim, gutters, roofing, patio enlcosures and awnings.
Republic windows. Low-E glass, argon filled. Fusion-welded, metal-reinforce frames. Lifetime warrantee (brochure does not specify non-prorated). Energy Star compliant. Sashes lift out for cleaning. Garden window option priced at an additional $1530.
http://www.republicwindows.com /
Alside Odyssey Plus siding over " tongue-in-groove extruded polystyrene insulation (R-value ~3). Simple nailing hem. (This is not Alside's best-engineered vinyl siding.) Vinyl coated aluminum trim. Up to 15' of rotten wood replaced with no added charge.
http://www.alside.com/siding/odyssey.htm
I might finally add that we do expect to find some rotten wood on one side of the house where the old asphalt driveway* - since replaced - overlapped the siding in some places and pooled water in the direction of the house in others. And who knows what may lurk under the aluminum elsewhere.
*This driveway was something else. Worse than the concrete guy we hired to replace it believed it was. It was laid down over an older, shorter concrete drive AND the old sidewalk to the kitchen door and UNCOMPACTED DIRT.
--
Pat K.

Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Before you committ to a contractor, read the latest Consumer Reports to get the skinny on vinyl siding. When it comes to windows, there's Andersen, Pella, and probably a few other really good regional brands, and then there's the contractor junk. Best advice is go with products that have stood the test of time and a contractor with a reputation for good workmanship. Regarding the latter, you may need to contact former clients or view his work in progress with the help of a consultant. It may even save you some $ if you work with an architect. HTH
Joe
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.