What criteria can we rate loaders on?
* Geometry accuracy
* File Format(s)
So I think your question boils down to the categories listed above.
Unfortunately, I've only used 2 loaders and they both load VRML files.
Here is a link to a bunch of loadershttp://java3d.j3d.org/utilities/loaders.html
Thats all I got
Textures : from what I know, avaiable loaders can only handle diffuse color, however I am not expecting much, just simple textured objects, unfortunatelly I found both starfire and asp loader having problems with various, more detailed textures, my goal is to find a loader that is capable of loading various textures with only diffuse map supported
Animation : would be great if it could handle it, but I am afraid such one does not exist
Geometry accuracy : not that much required since my models are quite of simple
File Format(s) : all that 3ds can provide, such like 3ds, max, asp and such