Cal, I have a detractor who likes to stir up the pot by bringing my credentials into question due to the fact that I don't post photos. He joined the forum under multiple aliases in an effort to make it seem like criticism directed towards me was coming from more than one member, but it was only him. Recently, one of his aliases was banned for multiple accounts and, since you joined right after, and seemed to be edging towards pushing the 'photos or shut up' button, I thought you might have been him and acted accordingly. I just went and took a look at your blog, and, since you are obviously an adult with a rich life and not a teenager with no life whatsoever, you are not this person. I apologize for reacting to your request for photos in the manner that I did and moving this thread towards a less friendlier tone.
For the casual hobbyist, bake time tends not be very important, but for the obsessive, bake time is a critical ingredient in pizza. The bake time dictates the transfer of heat and the transfer of heat defines the oven spring. Faster bake times product better oven spring. For Neapolitan style pizza, it's almost all about bake time. Up to 90 seconds, it's Neapolitan pizza, with all of the characteristics faster heat transfer provides (massive oven spring, intense char/leoparding). Beyond 2 minutes, it ceases to have these characteristics and no longer falls within the style. For NY, the bake time spectrum is much larger and has a far greater subjective component, but, again, for most obsessives, faster is generally better.
If you're dealing with obsessives, and there are a lot of us here, it's impossible to have a discussion about baking materials without discussing bake times. It's also part of the equation that the zealots are going to nudge non obsessives towards obsessive quality materials, especially when those materials are comparable in price ($40ish for 1/2" steel vs. $30ish for 1/8" cast iron).
Nobody here is saying that anyone has to only strive towards making 4 minute NY style pizzas, but we are encouraging people shopping for new stones to not limit themselves by purchasing products that can't deliver these kinds of times.
I read through a good portion of your blog (which I enjoyed quite a lot), and, I gotta tell you, you seem to be getting pretty obsessive about pizza
I would think that with your favorite pizzerias and your newly built WFO, you should be starting to understand what faster bake times bring to the table. 9 years ago, when Reinhart wrote American Pie, he was pretty bake time oblivious. I chatted with him earlier this year, pointing out that all of his favorite places were fast bakes, and I think he's finally starting to get it. He recently purchased baking steel in an effort to break the 7 minute barrier, and, while I don't think he'll do it with 1/4", for him to even be thinking about getting faster bakes in his home oven is a huge sign of how far he's traveled since American Pie.
If you can, try to borrow the 1/2" steel plate one more time. Crank the heat to 550, put the plate close to the broiler and use the broiler during the bake. You also might want to rework your recipe, since lower temp recipes usually need a little tweaking to work well with faster bakes. You may not achieve the perfect 4 minute pie immediately, but, I promise you, the potential will be there in that plate and you may be pleasantly surprised when you reach the 4 minute NY mark.