Alex, you bring up an interesting topic--the segmentation of graphics functions within software suites! Adobe does it, Corel does it, Stone does it, etc.
Adobe acquired their various apps from different developers years ago and never glommed them together into a cohesive whole. So instead of a single large presidential suite, you have a set of smaller rooms with adjoining doors. You can go from room to room, but it's not the same.
I agree, Illustrator is pretty maddening. I speak as an IT Consultant that runs graphics computer labs in higher ed. Students are not happy using it, and I am not happy showing them how to use it. It mocks your every move, being mostly unintuitive (IMO).
But Illustrator's Live Trace function is great--so is Corel's take on it. If that's all you intend to do, fine. You're done quickly.
Only one application that I know of fully integrates image editing, vector editing and page layout (not to mention web design, presentations, PDF export, etc.): ACD Canvas
, which I played with for the first time today, comes close.) Canvas 11 has an Auto Trace function of similar capability.
The bad news is, Canvas has pretty much been left to rot by current owner ACD (of ACDSee fame). They just killed off the Mac version earlier this month. However, I still use it to produce my ezines and web graphics, since doing all those bitmap and vector functions in a single app on the same page tends to spoil you!
Anyway, good luck to you--and please post some of your work!