For the longest time, I was using a small Wacom Graphire 4 that I got off eBay for $60. A few months ago, because I had the cash to do so, I bought a Wacom Intuos Touch. I've also used a first-run Wacom Bamboo Fun tablet, small. All of the tablets I've used had small active areas (4x5 and 5x6 that my Intuos has). They all felt pretty much the same, too, though I like the surface texture of the Bamboo Fun and the Intuos Touch much more. It's somewhat rough, like paper.
The only issue I've had with my Intuos Touch is the "touch" part. When I'm using the pen, I need to disable the touch pad function, so that the cursor isn't fighting between the pen nib and the heel of my hand. I've also had the driver crash a couple times.
As for using the tablet... Do you have to look at the mouse when you're using it? Do you go back and forth between the mouse and the screen while using it? Using a tablet is the same as using a mouse. Look at the cursor, not where you're positioned on the tablet itself.
Keep in mind: The equipment does not make the artist. Meaning, just because you use expensive, top-dollar materials, the quality of your work will not suddenly jump to match it. Instead of worrying about buying this expensive thing or that expensive thing, I think you need to concentrate on learning to use what you already have. Do you have the tablet drivers installed properly? If so, then the active area should translate to the monitor resolution. Meaning, if your pen crosses the border of the tablet's active area, then your cursor will be stuck on the edge of the screen.
I don't know why you have to keep looking at your tablet. Use it like a mouse. If you learn to use what you have properly, you wouldn't need to waste money on something else. Just because it's bigger and more expensive doesn't mean your work will suddenly get better. Like I've said, I used a Graphire 4 for eight years and the work I produced with that tablet still turned out better than some people do with their Cintiq.
It's not the product, it's the user.