Well, let's see. I'll take these questions one at a time. I have actually tried several of the typical "competitors," including the Inakustik and the Shunyata Everest, which I thought was impressive but also a huge investment. In fact, I went with a full loom of Shunyatas and ultimately decided that they were not quite to my taste.
There are quite a few longtime members here I have known for years who have the Puritan and have spoken very highly of it. Over the years, I have come to put much more stock in that than anything a reviewer or dealer says, which is not to say that there dealers or reviewers are inherently trustworthy.
The Puritan is excellent, very natural with a low noise floor. After I got the Everest, I was initially thrilled with it. I remember telling a friend of mine that it was like my entire system was "on steroids" with the Everest. The Puritan, for me, is more natural. I want to be more excited by the music than by my gear, if you know what I mean.
Your last question is, of course, the bane of of our audiophile lives, isn't it? We try new things because there is something we might prefer,and sometimes it might be a surprise. For instance, I recently tried a Clarity Vortex power cord and found it more satisfying than cords I have spent three times more money on. I love it when that happens.
Thus, the question in the original post. I'm interested in other people's experiences, which may or may not end up aligning with my own. Another factor that not many people like to admit is that we just like trying new things, and the dopamine rush of waiting for the UPS or FedEx trucks to arrive with them. Without a doubt, that's part of the equation, too.