Correct me if im wrong...... but isn't that a Video only feature? I'm not going to be moving the camera while doing a longer exposure, it will be Tripod mounted. That or my understanding of what your talking about is locking in an exposure that your currently looking at when taking a still, I thought this could be achieved by setting an exposure manually... so the same result can be achieved with the 230, just through more setup and knowing what exposure you want???
AEL is useful for still photography, especially if you're shooting wildlife in snow (as you said you planned to) and don't have time to do everything manually. Meter off a nearby scene with less glare, press the AEL lock button, recompose, and snap. You can also pre-meter if you're expecting to shoot, say, a bird flying in the sky.
However, it's not a deal breaker, and as you say, you can meter manually. Problem with DSLRs is not having a live histogram, although I think you can get one if you switch to LiveView, then switch back to the mirror after metering. Or you can do what film grognards like myself used to do (back then, we had no histogram or shot review, and we had to trek uphill 5 miles to each shoot - both ways
) and just dial a fixed EV compensation (I used to go -1.7 to -2 EV for daylit snow) and see how that works for you
You're also correct that AEL is useful for movie modes, but that depends a lot on the behaviour of that particular camera to changing light levels. Some do it very suddenly and jarringly to the point that you're better off avoiding it.
Wind, Sand and Stars.