I began CDing my son when he was about 6 months old, and now we're planning to start with Baby #2 (due in Sept.) from the very beginning. CDing is not really any more complicated than using disposables - the worst part is finding the best diapers that work for you, and you can always switch it up. I own about 4 of probably 8 different kinds of diapers! Bum Genius, Fuzzi Bunz, and that type of pocket or all-in-one diaper is really easy to use - they're just like disposables.
How do I store the dirty diapers before cleaning?
-- I just have a covered trash can that I put the diapers in. I know some of my CDing friends fill the trash can or pail with water, some even add Borax powder. You can decide what works for you (I just throw them into a dry can and make sure to wash them every couple of days). For when you're out of the house, you can use a plastic bag, or get more creative (I bought some really cute wet bags off of amazon.com) to store them in until you get home.
How much do I really have to clean them off before actually washing them?
-- If you breastfeed, the poos will be pretty soft and watery so you probably won't have to do as much cleaning. For formula or solids, I dump the poo in the toilet. If some sticks, I have a "poop spatula" that I keep next to the toilet to scrape off excess. I know that Bum Genius sells a power sprayer to hook up to the toilet to spray off extra instead of the poop spatula. Then I put the diaper in a pail filled with water (again, some people have recommended adding Borax to the water - it's up to you) and let them sit a while. That's it. You don't have to clean pee off at all.
How long does all this take?
-- Not counting doing the laundry, it takes a couple of minutes.
Are they really better for the baby?
-- This is up to you to decide. Disposable diapers have up to 200 different chemicals in them, and those are resting right next to your baby's skin. Many babies react to them (I have several friends who had to switch to cloth because their children were allergic to disposables). My son, however, never had any problems with any types of disposables or cloth. His skin just isn't that sensitive to it. I don't like the chemicals in disposable diapers, and so when I do use them, I make sure I use a bleach- and perfume-free diaper such as Earth's Best. For me, it's more about the environment.
How many do you really need?
-- I think I have about 16 diapers? And I do laundry every 2 days. You'll need a couple more when your little one is tiny because breastfed newborns tend to poop every couple of hours.
Ultimately, is all this extra effort really worth it?
-- I don't really think it is that much more effort, actually. Once you've got the diapers, you're done. You don't have to rush out to Walmart because you forgot that you used the last diaper earlier that day. The laundry load is pretty easy - Every 2-3 days, I have less than half a load of laundry to run - my son's clothing takes up a lot more time! The money is also worth it. You spend a lot more up front, but my husband and I did the math and I think it took us about 8 months to break even. Since we'll be using these diapers with Baby #2, also, now I know we've saved money!
I love cloth diapering. I have fun shopping for different covers (I prefer to use fitteds with covers, but that gets slight more complicated), I feel better about how I'm contributing to the environment, and in general, I don't find cloth diapering stressful at all. If you are really worried about it, though, you can buy a couple of cloth diapers and then buy a pack of disposables to use when you just get overwhelmed. I'm not sure how I would have handled CDing my new son from the beginning. Now that I know what I'm doing, though, I'm very confident that I won't have trouble with Baby #2. Good luck, and I'd be happy to answer any other questions you have in a PM.
PS I have heard good things about Kelly's Closet. Apparently, they let you do trials? I haven't used them, but I've seen them recommended a lot, so you might check them out. Good luck.