While SQ without amp is very important, here's also a reminder of something that really gets people to Head-Fi... Value! Some of the most participated threads are none other than anything related to great cost effective solutions. Fiio e17 for example sold out its first batch within days... And they own their renown to value. This is quite asking for a lot, but I think what impresses the most not only on Head-Fi but everywhere else too is if for the price one can buy something hard to compare with anything in the price range, there's a win there. I guess that throws the dependance on amp out the window among others.
As for portability, I also believe it to be crucial... If you got a good looking pair of cans it would suck if they had to stay at home all the time!
Meanwhile I also never saw VMODAs in stores locally, ever.