I use KloOge for my remote games with my old Dallas group. We use it in conjunction with a webcam over Skype, and really the only functionality from the program that we are using is the battlemat. I'd say it does a pretty good job at this at least, and I too found it much better than the alternatives.
For making maps, I actually use Neverwinter Nights I. I use the tilesets in the Aurora toolset to build my dungeon, city area, wilderness, etc and then just take a screenshot of it and use that. I've also used NWN to model some scenes, like this gate to the Elemental Plane of Fire that my players found in the underground passages near a volcano. (Warning: this is fairly large, http://www.penandpapergames.com/images/gate.PNG)