Moving coil cartridges are generally regarded as providing the best performance, but they are expensive to manufacture and therefore range from medium prices to stratospheric. The majority have a very low output which requires a different circuit and more amplification than a moving magnet cartridges. Make sure your phono preamp has an MC setting for these. There are a few moving coil cartridges that have a higher output and these can be used with the MM setting of a phono preamp.
Typically, moving coil cartridges are heavier than moving magnet, and with lower compliance are more suited to medium and higher mass tonearms.
Another characteristic of moving coil cartridges is that they do not have removable stylus assemblies which means that if the diamond is worn the whole cartridge has to be replaced or sent for re-tipping at a service such as the Garrott Lab. Some manufacturers (such as Ortofon) have a tradein scheme whereby you receive a discount (usually about 10% of the original price) off the price of the same or higher priced cartridge.
Like to know more about phono cartridges? Ortofon have produced a brochure called "Everything you always should have known about pick-up cartridges, but didn't know to ask". There is also their Advanced Phono Cartridge Guide. Both these documents are courtesy of SpeakerBits.com.au .