smithaa02 - 3:52 pm on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)
@Deeper...just a quick primer on what does what.
The .htaccess lines will do away with the need to have index.php in your urls which is bad, bad, bad. In fact if you go to /wp-admin/options-permalink.php already, it will probably already ask if you want to install those exact lines of code.
This is a great improvement, but wp still adds a lot of junk to the urls like categories and trailing slashes. You can customize this somewhat at /wp-admin/options-permalink.php but not to the extent that you can create .html pages.
Again what this does is to enable a permalink for each page to negate the need for index.php to be displayed (apache still pipes the url to index.php so the page can be generated dynamically on the fly which is a standard methodolgy for CMS's).
'Custom permalinks' then takes this a step further because it allows you to set at /wp-admin/options-permalink.php a custom url structure that doesn't have a trailing slash.
As for other plugins...they may do the trick...it's been a while since I played with them. My issue was mostly that they would only apply in some circumstances (like pages only and not posts...I wanted this everywhere). Some custom url plugins even had trailing slashes still which was bad bad).
None of the plugins should influence speed too much. WP still has to do a permalink lookup regardless in the db, and these plugins just let you specify that your permalink can be for example /fakedir/fakedir2/fakepage.html. I guess overall my preference for the plugin is that it just works...they may be find alternatives out there now.
If you are worried about speed, install w3 total cache (wp plugin) and have your web hosting company enable memcache...this will help A LOT.
As for pages vs posts...I think you are right to uses pages. Logically, posts are designed to be amalgamated into collections/archives/snippets/slideshows/etc...which is not what you're after, so pages are more appropriate. Plus, if you're not careful, it is easier to create duplicate content with posts compared to pages because of how WP is structured.
I believe indyank's code still depends on the .htaccess implementation as again there is no way for wp without the help of apache/.htaccess to implement url rewriting.