I believe that the best thing is to find credible reviews from real people that have actually used the service. Any place you can find these is good.
WHT is a great place. Just put the name of the company in the search feature and keep on reading. I often visit findmyhosting.com and webhostingratings.com. The ratings/reviews in these three places tend to be similar so in a way they back each other up.
The BBB rating can also be useful.
Sometimes a google search for "company review(s)" can give useful results too.
I love companies that have a "support forum". You can spend some time reading stuff there and see how things are taken care of.
Hosting is generally not expensive IMHO. The hunt for the lowest possible price is just not worth it.
I believe that if most people are happy with a company, then I stand a real chance of being happy there too.
So for me:
Price - among last things on the list and used only if all other things are (more or less) equal
Features - important - if you really need something you gottta have it
Uptime - important - downtime can happen to the best though for a lot of reasons. It's how they deal with it that's important.
Server performance - sure it's important; former or present customers can say how fast the servers are.
Support - very important - it has to be fast and helpful. It's not enough to receive acknoledgments and promises that things will be corrected.
Of course all is IMHO. Priorities vary among individuals.
If you're wanting to research a hosting provider - see if there's a way to contact people who are actually hosted by them.
As for forums... eh, if doing research, they have their use but I'd stay away from forums.
You just can't go wrong when talking to people who are currently USING the service in which you're interested. That way you'll be screening out those who have either never used it in the first place and are only reporting hear-say OR they had a bad experience and have since left - save the very few who left your prospective host for no other reason because they needed services that were not provided to them at the time. Since you want the current skinny, some companies change their ways, so a current customer would be the only way you could get you that sort of current - unbiased info.