Here's my objective opinion on the wedge. I have used the Wedge 23 for about the last year and have done a lot of expermenting with it. Personally I like a steeper wake, the VLX without wedge is too rampy however many beginner riders and some others prefer a rampy wake. The combination of wedge and weight allow me to accommodate virtually everyone with little to no down time or effort (15 seconds). You can obtain a steeper wake without the wedge but it requires considerably more weight in the rear and storage space is comprimised as well as the versatility is eliminated. BUT, you really have to set the boat up well to maximize the potential of the wedge without sacrificing performance. By this I mean bow to stern weighting. Too much weight in the bow and the effective angle of the wedge is increased, performance suffers and the wake curles. Too much in the rear and the wedge is rendered inaffective.
Driving, again this has a lot to do with setup. I find that it does make a difference but really not that much if the boat is setup properly. My boat will make plenty tight turns but if not setup right will cavitate at times.
Dan, you need to come out on my boat and learn how to manipulate the wedge, it's not that difficult
. BTW, I stopped by the other day but you had just left for the airport.
Now, wakeplate...no arguement there, you can weight the piss out of a boat giving it a steep wake, put the wake plate down and viola, a rampier wake for those that prefer it. Down side, you still have to have a place for all that weight. DEFINITELY get the hydraulic version!
I must say though that I still weight my boat fairly heavily even with wedge (1900 #'s, 700 is lead) but my wake is considered pretty big by most, and intimidating to some. AND....I have maintained versatility, no visable weight, and virtually all of my storage.
I think there are pros and cons to both methods but mostly pros. One thing is don't get the new VLX wedge (wedge 23) confused with the previous, the difference is night and day on a SV23 hull. I've driven the exact same boat with both types and it really is a big difference.
Best of luck, either way you'll be getting a great boat that will most likely be more than sufficient for your needs.