In the end, it doesn't really matter that much, considering how most of the few passive non-skill equipments that do exist are essential to their corresponding character. You shouldn't be replacing such gears with epics regardless, although body armor for knight and eagle eye for musketeers are debatable. As far as versatility goes, the fact that you can upgrade less for less money is useful if you don't have enough money for a full stat upgrade.
After all, the real advantage to the stat-increasing passive gears is obviously that it allows you to compliment the standard stat boosts offered to every standard character in the game. If you're simply choosing one or the other, you might as well choose the passive skill in case you don't have enough money for a full stat upgrade. But really, it's not such a big concern. Most people just go strength anyways nowadays, which none of the passive equips even offer (thankfully).
The only thing I'm not sure about is if the stat boosts still apply after that specific passive gear is knocked off. If they do not apply when gear-less, unlike the default stat boosts, then they are definitely second-choice compared to the main stats.
Last edited by Sean; 08-09-2010 at 08:27 PM.