The pro of a fire steel over other lighters is that there's little that can break or be damaged from weather. Even if you lose the striker, a steel knife will work with the flint. However the con is that you only get a spark, not a steady flame. That means it needs to hit something that will ignite very easily. I use it to light my stoves (alcohol and isobutane) but I wouldn't want to try to start a fire with that and twigs. If you need to step it up to the next level, they make magnesium starters which you shave off some of the magnesium and hit that with a spark to light whatever the magnesium is in contact with.
I've only used a cheap "made in china" type, so I have no idea if others might be better. But we're only talking about a piece of metal so I'm not sure there's a big difference in quality. I'd suggest looking at quantity over quality, and get the largest size for the money. The sparks are from the flint being worn off, so a smaller flint will be worn away quicker.
To use, I prefer a handle on the flint to give me a better grip. You place the steel close to 90° against the flint, and point the flint towards the object you want to light. You can push the steel down the flint, but I like to pull the flint back away from the target since it gives me more control and there's less risk of blowing out what I'm trying to light. This is a fast scrape motion, not a strike. Maintain the right angle and pressure and sparks will fly easily.
I haven't tried the fire drill or piston, but keep in mind that you don't have highly accurate aim with the fire steel. This means it's much more trial and error to get the spark to hit just the right spot on your target.
The thing I like the best with fire steels is their reliability and durability. But because they don't provide a constant flame, I tend to keep matches as a backup.