Choosing siding for a house is difficult. Wood rots and needs frequent painting. Vinyl siding looks cheap. I decided to go with HardiPlank cement board siding made by James Hardie. It's made of fiber-cement, so it won't rot and it holds paint well. I bought mine pre-painted, and it has a 15-year warranty on the paint. There is no perfect siding, but this cement board siding is a good choice.
Hardiplank siding comes in several widths and finishes. I bought the 8 1.4" width, which gives a big 7" exposure. The planks are 12' long. My siding has the "select cedermill" pattern, and as I mentioned is pre-finished.
The siding is nailed on just like wood. Cutting it is a little different -- if you use a circular saw you'll create a lot of silica dust, which is a probable health hazard. We bought a power-siding-shear that the manufacturer recommends. It cuts the siding quickly and creates minimal dust. The shears cost about $300.
Hardiplank siding has a excellent appearance and is simple to install. It's relatively expensive, but I didn't need much to cover my little house (about 215 of the 12' planks cover the entire house). It's a good compromise in the imperfect world of house siding.