Thanks for starting this conversation! I'm not (yet) a builder, but have been doing lots of research.
I want a 4-person, high-performance, cross-country airplane; something that will go 800nm (920sm) in 4 hours at 10,000 ft with IFR reserves. (That's a trip from Ohio to Florida without stopping to fill the tanks or empty the bladder.) As a first-time builder, I wanted a proven design with lots of completed aircraft flying and a very active builders' community.
The Cozy Mk IV is the top-of-the line plans-build canard aircraft. With over 350 flying, and hundreds more under construction, there is a very active community of builders and enthusiasts. (see http://forum.canardaviation.com/ ) The Cozy is fast and very efficient, burning just 10 gal/hr at top speed. Unfortunately, the 165 kts cruise (~190 mph) didn't fit my trip profile.
The Velocity has the performance numbers, but is expensive compared to most kits and all plans-built airplanes. There is a very active builders' community at http://www.velocityxl.com/ . See the Wiki and the Reflector (combination of online forum and group email list.) The fact that there are over 500 Velocities (SE and XL combined) flying makes it the top-selling 4-place kit manufacturer. (Lancair and Glasair are tied for 2nd with around 390 each) Unlike many other kit manufacturers, Velocity has never gone bankrupt, never defaulted on a customer deposit, and never stopped providing support.
Subjectively, my wife and I like that the Velocity has doors instead of a canopy, and that it doesn't park with its nose on the ground. It is the only small airplane that you get in-to and out-of like a car; no climbing up on (or ducking under) a wing, and no dropping down into the seats from a hatch-top.
(Aside: build a plane that your family is excited about – I've heard from too many builders who never completed their project because their family got tired of the time and money that was going into it! In my case the promise of vacation weekends -- leaving Ohio after lunch on Friday and having dinner in Ft. Meyers, FL -- was a big selling point.)
AeroCanard seemed like the worst choice. Not many flying; as expensive as a Velocity SE (although you don't have to buy everything at once), doesn't hit the performance targets, not a big builder community, canopy instead of doors, and it parks with its nose down. The wrong airplane for me in all respects.
I also considered the Lancair models, but they were even more expensive and I could not find an active community of builders. It seemed like a large percentage of Lancair builders did all their construction (or had it done for them) at the factory's builder-assist center. There were surprisingly few online builders' logs. Also, Lancair is shifting its focus to their new model, the 300+kt, $500,000 Evolution. I may re-consider this if I win the lottery. :-)
Tangentially: I'm a big fan of Vans Aircraft. They may have the easiest-to-assemble kits in the world, and that makes them the top-selling 2-place kit manufacturer - over 3,000 flying! The RV-10, though, doesn't approach 200kts and can't go 800nm with reserves; those are important numbers for me. RVs also don't have the WOW-factor that the canard aircraft do.
You asked for an objective analysis, but nobody builds an airplane to satisfy objective criteria. Each of us wants something different: easy-to-build vs one-of-a-kind, high performance vs. low/slow/fun, historical replica vs. futuristic design, IFR transportation vs. open-cockpit thrills. In the end, you have to build the airplane that you (and your family) want!
I'm not sure what the new V-Raptor will offer. I'm still weighing my options while I build a workshop.
Let me know what you decide!