The Good: tough, long lasting pedal at a reasonable price
The Bad: jams in heavy mud
If you ride clipless pedals and do the Shimano thing, these are where it's at! Like many Shimano products, nearly the same quality and durability found in the highest level pedals (XTR) is also incorporated here in a more economical version. Overall you get great function and years of solid use with the XT trail pedals.
From previous years, they haveadded a cage around the pedal to increase contact area with the shoe and allow for more security in times when you want to ride clipped-out. This also adds long-term durability, as the cage helps protect the pedals from smashing rocks, etc. I have found that this extra platform does indeed come in handy, despite my fears that it would be harder to clip in with a bulky cage.
Just don't be tempted to think that with the new platform you can ride this pedal with a flat soled shoe - it may work if you're riding around the block to get some groceries, but it will not give you much confidence on the trail.
The weakness of these pedals is found in muddy or really sandy conditions. Heavy mud will jam up the release and create a dangerous situation. Also note that if you do a ton of hiking in your cleated shoes, you may want to replace the cleats each season as a chewed up cleat will also bind a bit on the entry and release of the pedal. Replacement cleats are around $20 which seems a little high for such a simple piece of hardware.
Bonus: right now the XT version can be found at a good price from online vendors.