I've had one for a while now, and after being a lifelong Nokia user I'm loving it.
To answer a couple of questions, it's Android 1.5. Latest rumours suggest that Samsung will be skipping 1.6 and releasing 2.0 in Q1 2010 (I believe this is the same for the HTC Hero, although there are unofficial 1.6 firmwares available for that so I've heard).
The "sync notification" alert tone mentioned in the article can be turned off in the settings menu, the headphones one I don't know, I've not tried.
Yes the Samsung NPS software is crap and doesn't really work apart from to update the phone, but as someone has already pointed out, contacts and calendar etc. is synced with your google account anyway. So there's no need for the app's sync features. You can of course still access the SD card on your computer as a removable disk too.
Camera crap? Well, yes. But that's the same for all the current crop of Android phones, but I think it's OK, certainly in daylight.
Poor battery life? Not for me, I've had over 100 hours between charging and the phone was still at 30%. If you've got background data syncing, wifi, gps, loads of twittering facespace widgets updating every 10 minutes then yes, it's not going to last long.
One possible cause for the big battery drain is apparently if you're using the frankly terrible case that samsung provide with the phone. It keeps the camera button pressed down and prevents the phone from going to sleep.
Do I regret getting it? Not so far, so long as Samsung continue to provide updates to last my 18 month contract period I'll be happy. The HTC offerings do seem to have better support though.
With more and more manufacturers releasing Android phones I think things can only get better.