"I wish the netgods would all settle on jackd and figure out how to solve its power consumption issues, if at all possible."
Although completely untested, I wonder if simply specifying a very large period size for JACK would go some way to addressing this. At least some of the reason for the high resource usage of JACK is that currently most of its users require low latency and so run with very small buffers. Desktop users don't require low latency, so running large buffers wouldn't matter there. Larger buffers mean fewer wakeups and thus lower power consumption.
JACK is certainly not a replacement for anything else at present, but I do wonder whether with some work it could be used as the basic building block for a universal audio system.
The other thing worth reiterating here is that JACK does much more than just provide access to audio hardware. It is also a signal router allowing audio to be routed arbitarily between applications as well as to/from a physical soundcard. This, along with its low latency performance, is what makes it extremely useful to pro audio and music production users.