I don't have an NX - I have an ND. but I believe the NX would beat a Maxxum hands down from an ergonomic perspective. I have found there's much more to shooting than feature-lading, and in fact in this area often less is more, as in more effective, in this day and age of feature bloating for marketing's sake (hey, you never know when that absurd feature might be handy!).
This of course is aside from the already mentioned "Zeiss feature".
I think it's worthwhile to take the set. I got one with 28-80 & 70-200 combo for $1,150 some 6 months ago. The pictures taken through it are just characteristic if not totally superior to those from Minolta (which I keep Maxxum 7) or Nikon (I used to own F601). Zeiss glass is always proven of its sharpness and tonality.
To be objective, the lenses were tested by MTF to rival to pro lenses from C, N and M. You will not regret for owning such superb lenses, and they at least give you kind of feeling what photographs can be. The extraordinary feeling, I think, is kind of human touch or (beautiful bokeh in their terms). My Minolta is good enough but does not make me feel the same. It's magic.
Down to some details, of course NX is not the most feature-riched one, but still it has some uniques:
1) Providing Green and White modes switch that makes it very convenient to change between certain setting's. I use White setting as Av exposure - CWA metering - Manual focus (use focus button to activate AF once in need), while the Green as Program Mode - Evaluative metering (and showing the difference than the spot ones to illustrate the complexity of lighting condition) - Single AF. This feature is unique to Contax I guess.
2) One time AF using Focus Button. You can switch between MF and AF more smoothly than other cameras though Minolta has DMF (but need pressing a button to release the focusing ring).
3) You don't need to lock the Aperture when using AE exposure mode, Nikon needs you to lock the aperture ring at the minimum position.
4) Simple and useful AF zone selection. It has five AF sensors in most convenient diagonal direction to cover the sweet spot of the image. The only thing to complain is that NX's AF is not comparable to the competition and the sensors other than the central one are even less sensitive.
5) Second Curtain Synchronization for built-in flash. This is also unusual for other SLR's.
Of course, there're trade-off's: like battery consumption, AF in low light/contrast condition. But I think the picture quality and the feels will over-rule.
I agree with Taylor to the point that Maxxum/Dynax 7 is great camera. Actually I own one with 24-105, 70-200 G, 100mm macro. It takes fantastic pictures.
NX is different kind of beast. Minolta gives you technical innovations and accuracy no problem. By using Contax it gives me touch of feeling that I must shoot something to show the strength of the Zeiss glass. Of course, it's just a feeling.
What a pity and so happened that the two brandnames lacks DSLR (ND is not counted as it's been withdrawn). Both bodies are excellent to be the prototype for next DSLR. In that case, I'll face challenging choices.
I just picked up a demo NX for $299 at B&H because I could't resist the price as a second body to my N1, and I use it all the time,its light weight well built and user friendly features make it a nice camera to go everywhere.
My original point was that being a "Zeiss aficionado" is like being hooked on a drug that transcends all reason. If you are hooked, you have to have it coute que coute. So all shortcomings of NX, perceived or real, do not matter, as in the eyes of a Zeiss addict all is justified by the single fact that NX can and does use Zeiss AF lenses.
NX, of couse, is a wonderfully feature-rich camera that I like a lot. But a "Zeiss addict" would not have asked a question such as "How does it compare to the competition?" There is no "competition"! (Well, maybe N1, but that's something else entirely.)
If one was not a Zeiss addict, then there are many cameras that can be had with less money with more plentiful lens choices. <grin>
Ah, I should get off my podium before I fall over. Please take it all with a good measure of salt and humour.