Vinyl siding is a great product and unless you own a log cabin, you can duplicate almost anything.
The best part, besides no painting, is you can add details like door surounds, window mantels, wide corner post, light blocks, vinyl shutters, and so on.
The most important part of having vinyl siding installed is the installation. Most of the brands out there today are about the same as far as quality goes. Get a lifetime gaurantee on the product from the manufacturer.
I used a product on my home called Wolverine Benchmark that had a nominal thickness of .044" and has a stabilizer rod in the lock that slides into the next panel so it keeps the panel streight and the overlapping ends tight.
I prefer lighter colors because everything fades over time and although vinyl siding should fade evenly, it is less noticable with lighter colors.
The most important advice that I could give you would be to get three estimates from home improvement companies that have been around a long time and enjoy a good reputation in the community they work in. A ten or twenty year warranty on labor won't do you any good if they are not going to be around that long.
Make sure they have liability insurance that will cover you if someone gets hurt on your property as well if they damage your property. Get a copy of the certificate sent from their insurance company before you give any money to anybody! Call the insurance company to check on the coverage.
The typical cost of a siding job should be about three times the cost of all the materials to do the job. 1/3 for materials, 1/3 for the installer, and 1/3 for the company. If the company is the same person who is the installer, the percentage should hold true. Anything less than that, may be too cheap.
I have been called many times in the past to see if I would finish the job that someone else ran off on. I always said no and when I asked them why they did not hire me in the first place, the answer was always the same, They were alot less than you.
This happens in every trade. It is easy to be cheaper if you don't plan on doing the whole job! But, enough on that.
Finaly, I would send you to check out www.vsi.com (I hope I got it right), that is the website for the Vinyl Siding Institute and all major manufactures of any note belong to this and have links you can go to.
Alcoa, Mastic, Certainteed, and Wolverine are very good brands and they do stand behind their products when installed by a qualified company.