A lot of assumptions and misinformation here IMHO. I'll address some of the inaccuracies..
I was told by my son Mark that many members were interested in comparing the router tables out in the market. He wants to know, what is needed to compare commercially built router tables? The first thing that come to my mind was, what do you need a router table for? You are a beginner and you received your grandfather's Sears router complete with the packaging. This router has rounded over three boards and then was quickly put back in the box and left there for the next 30 years.
Ummm.. not the case for most here. Some of us have been using routers for quite a while and have never invested in a commercial router table.
You found this tool and have heard that it is the most versatile tool in the workshop. Now you own one of these tools and you want to know more...so why the router table? Most of them out there can round over a board and cut a rabbet joint, that's it. Each of the manufactures create the same style with subtle differences but for the most part they are all the same and of course they can round over the board and make a rabbet joint.
So again why do you need to spend hundreds of dollars for something as useless as that? You can have the same thing by just taking the sub-plate off your router then using this sub-plate to match and drill the holes on a piece of 1/2 Good One Side plywood approx. 24" X 48". I would put the router at one end of the plywood leaving it equally from the two sides and the end. The commercially built ones would have you put the router in the center of the plywood. Mount the router and screw the 1/2" plywood on the end of your workbench and you are set...you now can round over a board and create the rabbet joint. Cost about 10 bucks...
Not so. There are large and significant differences between manufacturers of router tables. And none that I know of uses plywood. Thankfully. Also not every table has the router mounted in the center. Many are offset. The better manufacturers offer options. Also, for that $10 cost you'll get about $10 worth of accuracy. Stay away from plywood and go with an MDF core surface, it's rigid and flat.
So again you ask what router table to buy? There must be more to the router tables out there right? No there really is not much more out there, they have no idea how to make the rabbet/dado joint or the box joint to say the least. They make it virtually impossible to change router bits, remember the hole for the router is the middle of the table leaving no place to put the router while changing the router bits. They all do it this way so is that really what you want to do?
Actually there is plenty out there. A diverse group of products. They do not make it virtually impossible to change the router bits. Those are changed the same way on any table, lift out the plate. Simple.
Next two questions are related to router bit storage. So question 2, where do you put the router bit after you have taken it out? and 3, where do you get the next router bit from? Is there a system used to hold your router bits built into the table? Again the answer is over at the workbench in a box full of plastic cases...
Ummm no. Why are there a box full of plastic cases? Why not one large case where all your bits can fit? or a drawer in your workbench to store them? I'm not sure what the point is here. Is there some magic bullet? The bits have to go somewhere no matter what router or table you use, right?
Next, let's talk about the fence. Did you ever look closely at the router bit and really decide for your self how much fence you really need to mold the edge of a board. Using just the bearing it is about 1/4" so why a 30 inch fence. We agree that router bit does the cutting, right? And you agree with me that you need a small amount of fence to get the board on the router bit and off the router bit, right?
Simple, the longer and straighter the fence the more support, safety and accuracy in the cut. Not every piece cut is 10" long.
Being cautious let's say 6" on the in-feed and 6" on the out-feed. So then 4) why do all these router tables make the same sized fence leaving it to be 24 to 30" is length...To be honest with more fence you have the chances of not getting your board to touch the router bit at all, it becomes a real problem. A bit of a warp in the project piece makes it difficult to mold the edge. So why such a long fence?
Again, what about long workpieces? Board not touching the router bit at all??
You guys work with boards with warped edges? That's not safe or smart. Square straight stock is pretty basic to all woodworking. Unless you're working with curved pieces in which case you wouldn't be using a fence anyway.
Now let's look at a real gem, how they mount the fence to the table? This is suppose to be a feature...each have a T slot, a T-nut with a bolt and I think they want you to make the fence parallel with the side of the table. That is so you can use your table-saw miter gauge to do cross cuts. That's right they want you to use a tool designed to be used with the table-saw to be used with the router.
Sometimes it's desirable to have the fence parallel with the edge of the table. A miter gauge is useful in keeping the work piece square to the fence. And the miter gauge is not used exclusively on the table saw. It can be used for a variety of tool applications.
So that is just a few things to ask when looking for a router table...I think you will find that most of these commercially purchased router tables are basically the same and work as described above...So to start you should use my plywood table with a 2 X 2 fence with two C-Clamps to start...
Again, some c-clamps and a short fence are fine for small pieces, but what about larger ones? How does a 2 x 2 fence give you support for vertical work?
What material are you using for the fence? will it remain straight? High quality commercial fences will. What about safety? where is the bit guard mounted on your homemade fence? How about dust collection? Your fence account for that? Mine does. As do most well made commercial fences. As well as safety, something you failed to mention. What type of surface does your "plywood" table have? Is it rough? Won't that require more effort to feed the stock through? Sounds like that might be unsafe.
It seems to me that it it is more important for someone just starting out using a router to make the learning process as easy and as safe as possible and NOT to focus solely on the cost. High quality well made tables provide large flat work surfaces. High quality well made fences provide straight true rigid, accurate and safe work surfaces and include protection from sharp bits and include dust collection.
My advice for someone purchasing a router or router table, as with all tools, get the best quality tool you can afford. There are a myriad of manufacturers out there and a wealth of information about them on the internet. Educate yourself.