Well, I may need to explain a few things here. I have some of this shown in my profile too, but I am not completely inexperienced. I have made a good few things and they have turned out well. But that's all across the board, not just all router work. As a matter of fact, sometimes I never touch a router for some projects, and on others, it's only needed for a quick edge profile or a rabbet. So based on that, I am somewhat inexperienced with router work.
I got into woodworking about 3 years ago. I've been a carpenter about 10 years longer though, so table saw use, circular, drills, and other tools, I have quite a bit of experience using. Woodworking was what brought me to the router, though, and I've used it some, but not enough to know all it's uses cold.
So, to start off, I bought a Craftsman 17543 combo kit (2 HP), and also bought another table from Lowe's with a Task Force plunge router in it (just needed the table but the router came with it). It took me no time at all to see that the plunge router it came with did not belong in the table. It was a great little tool when used freehand for signs and with an edge guide for mortises and dadoes though, so I took it out of the table and left it out. Signs and light duty plunge work are what I do with it now. I also was given another older, fixed base Craftsman router (Ryobi made) that I put in the table, so I use the original Craftsman combo router freehand as well, the plunge base for what I consider harder mortises and dadoes, such as in hard woods or for when I need much deeper cuts, anywhere I think more power would help, and the fixed base for anything else I can make it work for. But with its plunge base being so much heavier and bulkier feeling than the small Task Force router, I don't reach for it first unless I just feel I need it on plunges. I normally leave the motor in the fixed base and use this for edge forming, and rabbets, and sometimes long grooves or dadoes that go completely across or end to end of a board (not dadoes that don't come to an edge, which is a job for a plunge router only).
I have also done some edge forming using a plunge, and found it not to my liking. I know how to use the depth stops, and they are great for setting depth on straight and spiral bits. Nothing with a bearing though. Because of how I use it, I put a straight bit in and plunge until the bit hits the surface and then set that point as my zero point. If I want to drop down, I rotate the stop turret, or whatever the stepped thing is on the base, and I can drop in 1/4 inch increments. If I need less or more, but not another 1/4, then I can adjust the micro adjustment knob and just sneak up on it. But this same technique won't work on a bearing bit, or maybe it would but I'd have to put some more thought into it. However, other issues arise as well, such as when I put the bit in, it's seems like there's more stuff in the way on the plunge base to obstruct view and also for the wrench to hit as it suddenly comes loose. My knuckles too. Also, the whole thing just feels clumbsy and bulky. I just have an easier time changing the bit in the fixed base, and that base seems to feel more solid as well during use, so I just found myself preferring it anytime I can use it and make it work. So much so, that for my next router, I was only considering fixed base models.
But as I've said, my router use has been somewhat limited, so I wasn't really aware of my router needs, and in my search, I have discovered that many do not even have all the features I consider essential, such as LED's and dust collection chip guards. Some can be ordered, and others cannot.
This prompted me to make the list of needed features, which led to the list of what I use each type for (some things I added even though I have not yet done so, but know the technique through reading). I found that the plunge router had many more uses on the list than the fixed base. I wasn't really aware of that fact until I saw it on paper.
Then yesterday I was looking at different models at Lowe's, and I could tell that the plunge base on the Bosch 1617 is a different animal than the one I have. It changed the whole game. Without even using it, I can tell it would be much better. That's why I made this thread today. I'll post my lists in another post below for any interested.