let me give you a brief story of mine, back in 2007, I was lucky to get my company to sponsor me the CEH course version 5.0. Fees was like USD1000, you get the following:
1) 5 days of training (9a.m-5p.m) - lunch on your own
2) 1 box of 5 thick manuals which are poorly written, even the print-screen of is not up to par or clear (they are very blurred)
3) a CEH trainer which tries his best to explain everything to us
4) practically skipped all theory based topics like physical security etc.
5) lab testing - a Windows 2000 server (un-patched), so you can try to get in using metaspoilt, hacking thru netbios etc.
6) completely ignore how to hack Linux boxes (just skipped), asked us to play around with the BackTrack Live-CD.
7) A set of download CDs on the tools available from the Internet seperated by chapters (Windows, Linux, Wireless Hacking, Web Server etc).
a voucher for the exam in any of the Prometric training center.
Again, I procrastinated up to until early this year, to study and take the exam (as it expired in Dec 2008), I renewed the voucher and took the exam in April 2009 and passed. To sum it all, I didn't rely on the official training materials (never read it), as I know I'd be wasting time. So I brought the Official Review Guide, CEH ExamPrep and Exam Cram 2.
I can't say, I'm a 100% hacker or claim to be one, there's so many things that I'm still learning. All i know that in this industry of Info Sec, you need to have paper credentials to show that you can do the work too. (whether you can do it or not later, well, thru interviews, the people will know whether you're B/S or you can really do it.)
I've read the two links you've posted before, some of the posting were back since 2006. I'm not pro-EC council or something, I guess from the way they started it off, quality controls are somewhat lacking. I'm not sure about the latest official training materials are any good or not for Version 6.
If you can do self study, that would be at least save all your hard-earned money. If you do really want to go for the training/workshop, I suggest you visit their facilities and take a look at the materials that will be given to you upon signing up the course. that way you get a feel whether the training is worth it etc. (check the trainer CVs' too)
Btw, we don't get SANs training here in Asia, otherwise, would have got more options.
I'm doing CISSP self study and aim to take the exam in Dec 09 this year.
Good luck in your quest.
Done all 3 certs, now going for CISSP.....