I suppose it would have made more sense to just get the Olimex header board ( STM32-H103) for $40, a $70-100 JTAG, and GCC, but the point of the evaluation excercise is NOT to spend hours doing the "let's build everything from scratch". When the right integrated environment is chosen it sometimes worth the money. I still (and will continue to) do my source code editing in emacs but I have become pampered by the often richer experience of debugging with a decent IDE.
I would still like to just use emacs + gdb + gcc for development, but while I'm learning the chip I'd rather have an IDE with integrated documentation and GUI hand holding. My days of grunting manly about how I built all my tools by hand and debug via gdb command line is probably over. I will probably never replace my beloved emacs (used mainly out of habit) for editing and browsing code, but the point here is to hit the ground running and focus on the Cortex.
So far... stm32circle and Raisonance is nice, but I have no interest in CircleOS, so I've yet to see what it offers me in turns of raw EABI programming. Raisonance Ride is limiting me to 32KB debugging. I suppose I won't be using a lot of the advanced features of the stm32circle (color LCD, sound, etc) but it is a very rich platform (for only $40).
The smt32-performance sticks comes through Hitex (which is promising me unlimited debugging after I send them email). No response yet. The older license key (I am using the most up to date version of the debugger) doesn't work. They said I should email them a request for a new license. I was able to run their "dashboard" which allows me to do some performance/power tests. This is very informative.
At some point I will choose one or the other to do some development with. I guess I am hoping that the stm32circle will "win". Ride7 looks nice (reminds me of Crossworks). I need to see how well it does without forcing me into CircleOS.
I'll post updates in the next couple of days.