Thank you all for the responses.
Stick and Chuck, I also believe that the Bosch quality is solid. That's why they have been the ones I focused on the most so far. I took another look at this Ridgid yesterday and saw something I had missed before, the vac port being included. Now that I can see how it is made and that I don't have to order one, I got interested in it.
When it comes to a table router, I believe I had decided on a Bosch 1617EVS in spite of its extra costs to set it up just as I want. Yes, I am on a budget, so much that it will take me a while to even get the routers and build the table that I want, but these things have a way of working themselves out for me. I've come a long way in the few years since deciding I wanted to get into woodworking, as far as aquiring tools and an indoor shop.
Anyway, budget aside, I am focusing on the details, the little things that make or break the tool to me. I don't want this post to run on unnecessarily but to show you what I mean; the reasons for the 1617 in a table are precisely the same reasons NOT to use it freehand. First, it has no LED lights. In a table they'd be pointless, and even blinding during bit changing if always on such as with the Bosch MRF23EVS, but freehand the lights are an absolute necessity for me. Second, the need for dual wrenches to change bits. In a table I believe I'd actually like this better than having to hold in a spring loaded spindle lock, especially with the offset wrenches available from Bosch to fit their routers. I can change bits from above the table this way, and even without offset wrenches, just having a long wrench below the table can extend my reach, and since the table supports the router then I don't have to hold it too. The same router loose out on a bench seems it would be a hassle to me with two wrenches. I'd much prefer a spindle lock. Also, things like wooden knobs and a black sub base don't matter in a table, and the vac attachment on the 1617 is made the way I want so its not in the way of me accessing the bit. I've already mentioned before why these things make it not right for freehand usefor me. It's mostly about poor visibility and uncomfortable or even dangerous grips, again, for me (maybe not everybody). Basically it's a lot of small details that make the choice for me........so long as the main points are otherwise as one would expect, build quality, horse power and torque, and so on.
I noticed that the Ridgid router also has things like this as well. Dual wrench bit change option AND spindle lock, making it a good choice in a table or freehand. It also includes a tool for through the table height adjustments, has a good vac port design, and LED lights for freehand use, and they are not the always on type so when I'm changing a bit they won't be blinding. Seems perfect, and cost is actually less than the Bosch 1617 since extra accessories aren't needed. It comes with them all. It's also available locally where I'd have to order either one of the Bosch routers to get them as a fixed base only. I can get the 1617EVSPK combo at Lowe's just 3 miles away but I don't need the plunge base so why pay extra.
Now all that aside, customer service and parts availability I have not considered. I have only had a need for these things a few times in the past, on Craftsman and Kobalt tools, and once on a Harbor Freight air compressor, but each experience has been painless and simple, even on the HF compressor. Parts were easy to get, came in a timely manner, and customer service was good. Is Home Depot really that bad? They surely wouldn't be worse than Harbor Freight, would they?
Last edited by Duane Bledsoe; 01-17-2015 at 07:36 AM.