I've been a long-time Lonely Planet fan, believing that text was fine. Why would I need pictures, since I was going to see the places in person anyway? I have since changed my mind completely!
We just returned from a 10-day trip to Italy (mostly Florence and Rome), and I have to say that I absolutely LOVED having this book along. When we went shopping for a guidebook, my husband picked this up and I went straight for the Lonely Planet. I resisted the Eyewitness guide, and we ended up splurging and just buying both. This ended up giving us an entire trip to compare them.
It's true that it didn't list a ton of places to see in each, but we didn't really feel the book was too lacking. If we had known our itinerary when we went book shopping, we probably would have picked up Florence/Tuscany and Rome instead of the complete Italy, but this did help us choose our final destinations. One thing we really liked in the listings was the "Star Sight" marks. With the Lonely Planet books, the hardest part is trying to pick out which of the sights are really worth seeing and which are only so-so. In the Eyewitness book, not only did we have the Stars to guide us, but we also had the pictures to give us an idea if something was going to match our tastes or not.
By far, the best thing about this book was the information about the sights. I got so much more out of the trip by learning about the places we visited while we were there. From the food to the architecture to the history, it was so much more interesting. The clinching comparison between our two guides was the Roman Forum. The Eyewitness book had a sketch showing the layout of the forum with variou areas labelled with a brief description. A more detailed explanation of the various sites appeared on the following page. In contrast, our Lonely Planet tried despearately to explain the locations in prose ("to your left upon entering from this street..." and "across from that stands the remains of..."), and in the end, the only description they gave of each structure/area was its name! I really enjoyed having some background on what the places were and why they were significant.
The only downside of the book is in planning the logistics. There's not a lot of information on how to get from city to city (or airport to city), and the admission prices to museums and attractions are surprisingly absent. However, with the blossoming of online travel sites, a lot of this information is easily available from other sources.
The city maps were a little confusing when crossing from one map to the next (I don't think there's any overlap), but I appreciated having the sights labelled even when they weren't described in the listings. As we walked past a large church or government building, it was nice to be able to see what it was. The color coding of points of interest was good for walking, since we could tailor our route to pass by more interesting spots.
We didn't use the hotel listings, since I researched our hotels online, but we did take advantage of a few restaurant suggestions. There aren't a lot of budget listings, but the ones we tried were fantastic! Off the beaten path, we never would have found them otherwise, and we appreciated having budget sit-down options. The budget listings in our other guide tended to list lunch spots and self-service eateries.
In general, I really think this book helped "make" our trip. The whole time, it was like having a guide with us, pointing things out and explaining what was going on.