As Beatrix from Kill Bill can confirm, a ninja is only as good as her sword. This is why choosing the right snowskate for your purposes is critical to getting the most out of the sport.
Firstly, let's get some terminology out of the way.
Very very generally, "snowskating" can refer to the whole broad range of boards that are used without bindings for many modes of wintertime frolic. Even though, someone might be pointing to a snowdeck or POWsurf, often the term "snowskating" is used to describe all these activities. The general rule of thumb is that if there are no bindings, someone, somewhere will call it a "snowskate".
But to really break it down into product categories, here are the various bindingless boards available, which can all go under the general hashtag of #earnyourturns.
The photo above is a line-up of PowSurfers from Grassroots Powdersurfing. The folks at Grassroots call powdersurfing "the purest form of mountain riding on earth".
For anyone who has ridden powder, whether on skis, a snowboard, or POWsurfer, the feeling of total freedom is certainly something we can all relate to. By removing all binding systems, a POWSurfer has to depend much more on balance, skill and "feel" than with bindings. Your legs, arms, body, waist, knees, ankles, feet, core, and even toes are engaged when you're navigating the snow on any bindingless board. To be so fully engaged, in an environment of powdery bliss, is a pure experience for sure. Below is a little teaser of this bliss in action (Äsmosphere by Harry Putz and monEpic). You can check out the whole video here.
The issue with POWSurfing is that it is completely conditions-dependent. Definitely worth having a POWSurfer in your quiver, but don't expect to get out more than a few days a year. And definitely not often -if ever- at a groomed resort.
is more or less the antithesis of POWSurfing. These snowskates (just called "snowskates") are similar to a skateboard deck, except plastic and with groves along the bottom, to keep sliding in a relatively consistent motion. They also have a larger lip and tail than a traditional skateboard deck. If you're good at sliding around on a cafeteria tray on an ice-rink, you'll be great at snowskating. Otherwise, it takes lots of practice and micro-balance, even if you're already a good skateboarder or snowboarder. Here's a video comparing a skateboard deck on snow, to a real snowskate.
If a typical snowskate were a bike, it would be a freestyle BMX. If you're someone who cruises resorts on a SnowDeck, like me, you're about as likely to master one of these, as a road cyclist is to mastering an endo 360.
Finally, "the snowdeck" is the board for all seasons.
Though conditions do matter on a snowdeck, you can pretty much ride them anywhere.
Deep snow is great with a snowdeck. Small backyard hills are fun, for little jumps and tricks. And, even slightly icy resorts are possible, if you "four wheel slide" once and a while to check your speed.
Most board deck are around 35'', and you can either get a ski that is the same length (more for tricks and small stuff), or a longer ski (around 43'') for cruising and carving. The trend right now is to make the skis wider and longer, for higher speeds and more extreme carving or powder. If I were to recommend a starter deck, it would be a 35'' deck and 43'' ski. This will enable you to carve reasonably well, and get the feel. Once you start doing rails and jumps, you can move to a smaller ski, or move to a bigger ski for steeper/deeper.
The only basic gear you needs other than a deck and leash, are special grip tape and some high cut shoes. The tape is a must-have for any deck, as it allows you to stick to the top, regardless of snow cover. You can buy some here from Ambition Snowskates. One pack will do 1-2 boards.
I have a pair of Vans high cut snowskate shoes, which I really like. The main thing to look for is reasonable grip, and warmth. But any pair of high-cuts tightly laced will work.