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In terms of pure performance and ease of use, I don't think I've ever used a router that I liked better than the Porter-Cable 893PK Router Kit. While this is the most expensive of the routers on this list, it is well worth the extra money. This is a comparatively quiet, yet powerful router that is loaded with features that any woodworker would appreciate. The router kit includes some thoughtful features such as a ten foot long power cord, so you don't need an extension cord to power the unit, or a push button spindle lock to secure the motor while loosening the collet, meaning that you need only one wrench to make bit changes. Simply put, if there is one combination router kit that other manufacturers should emulate, this is the one.
In looking solely in terms of value, the Bosch 1617EVS Router Kit provides an impressive combination of quality engineering and performance and at what would be considered a value price. The variable-speed motor on the 1617EVS starts smoothly and performs well when under a load. It performs quite well when used in the fixed base, either by hand or in a router table. However, the 1617EVS really excels when used in the plunge router base, one of the best plunge bases I've ever used.
The Milwaukee 5616-24 is a very solid woodworking tool, with strong, durable motor that doesn't feel overly bulky in the hands. The 2-1/4 HP motor was stout and didn't seem to have a lot of drop-off when put under a reasonable workload, although the soft start did get to maximum speed a lot quicker than comparable units on this list. The fixed base has an above-the-table adjustment, plus two different handle styles. Additionally, the fine depth adjustment knob was very accurate with tight tolerances. While it is a bit more expensive than the Bosch, listed above, it is still a terrific value router kit.
The DeWalt DW618 Router Kit is a very solid entry into their line of professional woodworking power tools. Its powerful motor starts smoothly and is strong enough to handle nearly any routing task you could ask. There are some features, such as the unusual height adjustment ring, that separate the DW618 from other routers in the class.
Hitachi's entry into the combo router kit market, the KM12VC, is a value-priced router (the lowest price on this list) with some useful features, such as a hard-sided carrying case, a smooth 2-1/4 HP router and it is covered by a five-year warranty. However, the KM12VC is missing some of the thoughtful features found on many of the models above, which makes this unit probably a viable choice only for the most budget-conscious of router kit shoppers.