In agreement with all. I have more of a commercial background, so that this advice w/ a grain of salt.
My apprentices, the first router I recommended they buy was a plunge router. Finish work and millworks, that is a configuration we used most on jobsites. Most versatile, all-around base. A combo-kit will get you a long ways with less cost.
I'm sort of in a quandary of recommending a router to someone (a hobbiest) to start out with. My thoughts are that those that start out with a 1/4" router end up shortly finding they limited themselves and later buy a 1/2" router... If you were thinking that the first router you buy would be your only router, and be your last, then why not save up and start with light/midsized 1/2" collet router (which almost always always come with a 1/4" collet also) and have room to grow into. But if you want to learn and grow, start with a small light 1/4" router and save for something bigger to do more. Understand that even though we used a big plunge as our main router, that I initially introduced and taught those same apprentices with a small 1/4" router... It is easier to learn and build your basic skills with a small, light router. If you go this route, just except that you would outgrow it, but will still have it a small router to do trim and detail work.
It's hard to start out with something big, heavy and has a sharp bit spinning at 20,000 rpm and automatically feel confident, be nimble and coordinated. It takes practice and repetition to get an eye and build muscle memory. That's why I worked people up to that with a lighter router.
(Reminder to myself--) I should probably snap a pic of my "old" PC router today and post it. I just got it back from my dad. I forgot I gave it to him! It was a small router that I introduced routing to many apprentices with. An antique now. It was very good for trim, detail and inlay work. But didn't have the power to spin bigger bits, with consistency and quality. But it was stable for a small router. It handled well enough to provide people with confidence while they were learning and building their skillsets.
"Don't worry, I saw this work in a cartoon once."
"Usually learning skills and tooling involves a progression of logical steps."
Last edited by MAFoElffen; 11-11-2014 at 10:02 AM.