I've read a lot of mfg and user input on the merits of electric vs. manual and I'm coming down on the side of manual for all the usual reasons - cost, simplicity & reliability.
If you normally anchor in pretty shallow water then a manual windlass would be okay if its action is good.* If you normally anchor in deeper water an electric can be a real boon.* For example in the PNW anchoring in 30 to 80 feet is typical and in some anchorages, particulary farther noth, you may even have to anchor in deeper water.* With all-chain rode at a 5:1 scope, you can get a fair amount of chain out.* We carry 200' of all-chain (we should have 250' for this area) and there have been several times we've had all of it out.* Pumping this amount of chain aboard even with a good mechanical advantage manual windlass*could get pretty tiring.
We've been in one situation (so far) where the need to get the anchor in FAST was*critical to the survival of*the boat.* The windlass we had at the time was electric but very slow*(although still faster than a manual) and it became a real race*between getting the anchor up and clear or the boat ending up where we didn't want it to end up.
Fortunately this windlass sheared some teeth six months later and we replaced it with a new*Lofrans Tigres, which*seems to be at least twice as fast as the previous windlass.
It's my understanding that anchorages along the east coast, in Chesapeake Bay, etc. are usually*fairly shallow, perhaps 15 feet or so.* If this in fact is*the case, then a manual windlass would probably be just fine, and your statement about simplicity and reliability is certainly true.