I would kill for a good forum review. There are actually a ton of options though. You'd have to stick to the "top 5" or something, since there are so many variables, features, etc. to compare. Unfortunately the top 5 often lack some of the cooler core features that other systems have (for example, on-topic with the OP here, mailing list and forum integration). Usually these things are available as addons/hacks/mods/plugins/whatever, but it would of course be ludicrous to try to include even a few mods in the review. All of which is to say that I fully support a complete forum review (and would gladly put my money where my mouth just went
), but I fear it may be too daunting a task to do "right". Nonetheless I'd love to see it done...
As far as mailing list vs. forum, I personally much prefer forums. It used to be that forums weren't as full-featured as your email client in terms of formatting, spell-checking, unread post tracking, etc. but modern systems like SMF and vB take care of most of those things very well. So the arguments for using a mailing list are diminishing. There are still some who simply like to download everything and read it "offline" at their leisure. It's just what works for their particular work approach I suppose. I do think these people are in the minority however, so a forum is usually a very safe bet. Forums are also generally friendlier to "newbies" and generally inexperienced people. Mailing lists are kind of archaic, klunky, and obscure for many people who are newer to the web.