I've used nvAlt for years, absolutely love it. However, I still use Evernote for its OCR - I scan absolutely everything (letters, business cards, documentation etc) with a ScanSnap S1100 into Evernote and utilise its search on a weekly basis.
I haven't found a solution that can replace this on OSX.
I ditched Evernote a long time ago because of lack of support for Linux platform. There are several better solutions for notes taking (Emacs/Org-Mode) but like you said nothing comparable for clipping pictures and articles, annotating them, off the web and saving them in Evernote for future ideas.
Is the Evernote OCR better than using the bundled ABBYY FineReader?
Using the software that came with my ScanSnap I just push the button on the scanner, and an OCR'd PDF gets added to my folder of scans. I could then just add a symlink to this from my Dropbox folder and have them immediately synced everywhere.
There is something I do not get: Note taking is very important to the OP but he does not even want to spend 5 USD a month?
That also made me sad when Simplenote was bought by Automattic and became free as consequence. It was great that Simplenote was not simply shut down, however, 'free' is not a business model I want to rely on. But Simplenote is still the best although it has some reliability issues too.
As a general side note, syncing – even of relatively simple text notes – is a challenge. If you really on synced data, there is no way around having your own independent local backup with some kind of versioning.
I pay for Evernote, but the lack of export worries me. I'd way rather use something with an open-source available client. Evernote's shoddy API makes it obvious that they want your notes to be locked in.
Indeed, I could have gone into more detail but people don't tend to read long posts. So I could have talked about the time I was in a taxi in Spain (not speaking the language) and my only directions to a conference venue got corrupted, or the time when a note to myself about my doctoral thesis disappeared, or...
I'm using nvALT but I would never sync my private (as in "private diary") notes with an unencrypted web service. For "transactional notes" like shopping lists I use Simplenote though, because the Android app syncs really fast. Plus I'm using Evernote for saving websites because it's the best solution for saving the whole content including images and tables.
The editor in one note is way better than Evernote, which is a constant frustration with anything even remotely complicated like a checklist or numbered list. It's too bad they don't have an osx client.