i went back to 010 and i must be going crazy for having missed the highlighting options. however so far windhex is STILL the only hex editor i've seent hat will highlight sub-strings, i.e. any character that is referenced by a pointer. it is EXTREMELY useful for me anyway, not implying it's something essential.
however 010 highlights control chars and lets me add new ones, which is very nice, same with linebreaks and non-ASCII (although why anyone would need constant highlighting of non-ASCII i dunno). it only has one quirk that makes it unusable: if you copy something from the text field (using 010 with shift-jis encoding, obviously) and then paste it outside of 010, say, onto ANOTHER hex editor for example then the pasted output will be garbage
since CT2 highlights control chars as well by default allows copy/pasting outside of itself i guess it'll still be the best one for me for now. 010 has some good functionality though, basically it's the same as hex workshop for the tools (shifting bytes, operations, replacing, comparing, etc) but with shift-jis support. so i guess now there's no need to ever use hex workshop again.