Didn't say it was useless. I said don't buy it to lower your pH. I was disappointed the pH lowering affect was relatively short lived, since at the time I bought it this was often cited as one of the big advantages of AS in high pH tanks.
Also, water clarity with AS may be an issue. I don't like my water clarity in my AS tank compared to all my other non-AS tanks. But as I pointed out, it's possible this might not be due to factors other than AS, although others have had similar problems.
I do like the look, how well plants *initially* grow in it, and how easy it is to plant in.
The ample nutrients in AS that give you great initial growth also seem to be relatively shorted lived. I'm not sure how it stacks up long term with other substrates, but you should at least plan on using fert stakes within the first year. I'm not sure if there are some nutrients in AS that do last long term. I just know my sword growth nearly stopped after a year.
Didn't mean to come off as attacking there or anything, sorry. I agree that it shouldn't be used by itself for only the pH and nutrient benefits. Personally I start dosing ferts two weeks after initial setup, and run Co2 to maintain a steady pH. And as lauraleellbp stated, the ASII was made with the pH lowering in mind, which makes it a better choice for people trying to lower their pH initially, such as in a shrimp breeding tank or the such.
The cloudy water I've found is a hit or miss. In my M, I had cloudy water for a good two weeks or more with constant water changes. On the other side, I set up my S about a month ago with brand new fresh ASI and it's still been clear as crystal with only one or two water changes thus far.
You just can't expect any substrate to maintain its advertised benefits for too long. Eco-Complete and Flourite are generally inert clay substrates that will provide nutrients for a month or so. The big benefit I see in most of the substrates we use is their porousness and the great ability for most plants, especially finicky carpet plants, to grow great root systems.
Again, I apologize if I came off as attacking or anything.