Thanks for the responses.
What I didn't know was that an up spiral bit was better. I also didn't realize that if you have a 1/4" collet, you are pretty much in a position where 1/4" joints are the best you will do on a router table - at least I haven't seen an up-spiral bit with a size bigger than the collet size. So mistake number one was buying a cheaper router that only had a 1/4" collet.
That said, I bought a 1/4" up-spiral at lowes - not the best brand maybe but....it's an Irwin Marples. I tested it out yesterday in 1/2" pine to test the joint size on my jig...it wasn't precise enough, but I can figure that out. My biggest issue is to spend the up-front time to be precise...patience isn't always my best attribute. Anyway, the cutting was much easier and no more burning/smoking.
The other pain in the $#% things is that unlike most of you with a "shop", I don't have a basement, garage or shed to use - even though I have a house! So everytime I want to try something, I have to move all the equipment, jigs, electricity etc outside and set it all up - every time. And being in New England, this time of year is tough. Rain, snow and temperature don't give me a lot of options in addition to the time to set anything up. Oh well....I gotta figure out how to make best use of the time I get...sounds like life!
(and yes, buying an Incra jig would be great....if I were rich. I would think that most of us non-pros can't go out and buy all Dewalt and Festool tools with Incra jigs and bits by Whiteside and Freud etc. Not that I wouldn't love to, but just sayin'.....)