Pros: Ease of use Price good finish
Cons: blades were a little difficult to change
I went to Home Depot to get a Rigid suface planer that I had decided on for $350. Apparently they don't carry them in the stores, despite the fact that some moron I spoke to via the telephone there said they did (days before). Since I was going to my cabin the next day I couldn't wait for mail order, and didn't want to fork out $500 for the Dewalt.
I grudgingly got the Ryobi figuring that with a 30 day satisfaction guarantee, what could I lose, and besides it was $100 less than the Rigid and half of the Dewalt.
Set up was pretty easy. One very nice feature is that on each corner of the base are 2 holes. One is larger for a bolt for a permanent setting, and the other was perfect size for some drywall screws. The plastic was even chamfered such that the screw heads went flush and it held it tight. Plugged it in, scanned the manual to make sure there wasn't anything I was forgetting and turned it on. It was about as loud as a table saw, but no more. It was balanced and hummed nicely. I was expecting something to sound as loud as a Tazmanian Devil when it ate wood, but I was pleasantly surprised.
I was using it to take some surface graying off of 2000 feet of 16 ft long 2x6 tounge and groove pine. Its the kind they use in cabins where the bottom of it has a bevel and the top is flush. One side is floor, the other ceiling. Anyway, these boards had sat outside (covered) for about a year and had some bluestain and mold. It worked great. Some boards we had to "assist" pushing through, but I don't fault the Ryobi since these were 16 foot long 2x6's and fairly heavy.
After about half way through we got a nick from a rough knot in the wood. If I was running smaller pieces, I would have just run them through a second time, but since these pieces were so big, I just took a belt sander to the boards and knocked the seam down.
I only noticed snipe on two occassions, and I think that was because I wasn't supporting the wood well enough.
One thing I highly recommend. When flipping the blades, get a sharpie pen and mark the exposed blade before removal. Even though there was an obvious line in the wood, finding the nick in the blade was very difficult. When you remove the guard, the blade falls down and you have to study the blade to see which is the old side. If it was marked it would have been easier.
The finish was smooth enough to stain. Some don't recommend the Ryobi, but for me it works great. I can't imagine how I could justify twice the price for the dewalt. $250 difference will buy me a lot of blades and other equipment.