Porter-Cable - PC305TP (Rating: 4)

So a few months ago, I decided I needed a thickness planer. Of course, having a tiny workspace meant I was limited to compact models. All my research indicated the higher end Dewalt and Ridgid planers gave the best results. That same research also indicated the lower end models were capable of reducing the thickness of a board, but snipe was basically inevitable unless you hyper-tweaked the tool and used an additional infeed/outfeed support table. I was dead-set on getting one of the better models, but was waiting for a bargain to come my way.

So why did I buy this lower end planer? Impulse and economics. Lowes had this planer in their scratch and dent pile for $140 (reg price is $249). Given that I could return it if I was dissatisfied, I took it home. The next day, I took it out of the previously opened box, and was pretty unhappy with what I found. The tool looked to have been abused and returned by the previous buyer. The tables were pretty banged-up and there was no blade cover to be found. However, the tool did power up nicely, and it seemed to be in decent working order. None-the-less, I didn't want to sink $140 into a visably abused tool with missing safety features.
When I took it back to Lowes the following day, I told them about the condition of the tool. The manager asked if I could live with the tool if it were further discounted. And offered it to me for $90. The planer came home with me again.

The first thing I did was order an optional dust shute, which also doubles as a blade guard (see pic). Cost was $25. Its actaully a listed part for the Delta TP305, but this PC model is an identical copy of the Delta as far as I can tell. The shute fit like a glove. I also added an elbow shaped HVAC duct so the DC hose would hang off to one side while in operation.

Overall performance of this tool is pretty much what I expected. Out of the box, it snipes 2-3" on both ends of the board, as most planers in this class do. Holding the board while it enters and exits helps some, but is inconsistent. I did manage to eliminate the snipe by setting up an infeed/outfeed table and ran a few test pieces until I got the set-up just right. However, it was a temporary setup to plane a large batch of maple. I don't see myself going through the trouble of doing that just to plane a board or two at a time. In those cases, I just work around the snipe as best I can. Rasing and lowering the blades is easy and fairly accurate. The scale is easy to read and fine adjustments are no problem.
Otherwise, it does what its supposed to do. Results are very smooth. Its a two blade system. Lowes had just discontinued selling the Delta TP305, so they had the Delta blades on clearance for $3.50 pr. I bought all five sets on the shelf. Again, the parts fit fine.

Changing the blades is a snap. The included tool makes it easy. Takes less than 5 minutes.

Dust collection is prime with the optional Delta shute. Works fantastically, even with my measely 3/4hp DC. Without it, this tool is a real slob.

Noise is considerable. Its flat-out loud.

Overall, I'm satisfied with my purchase, but only because I bought the unit for a firesale price and because I have a stockpile of blades I basically stole. Otherwise, I'd have held out for a better unit that doesn't snipe so bad. The tool works as well as any in its class. The real positive stand out is the dust collection, but only after buying an additional part. At $249, I'm not sure I'd rec'd this tool, but if it could be found for under $200, and your prepared for the snipe issue, its OK. Quality seems good, PC is reputed to have good product support in the event of an issue. Parts should be easy to come by since its compatible with the Delta model. All said, I like the tool and I'm glad I got it. I still see myself upgrading when a prime opportunity presents itself. Until then, this one will do.

Technical Details (from amazon):
Powerful 15 Amp motor for superior stock removal
Quick change, two knife, solid steel cutter head mounted on ball bearings assures smooth operation and long life
Double edged, high carbon steel, reversible knives for twice the cutting life
Patented cutter elevation on four precision ground columns for superior cut stability
Poly V belt cutter head drive with rugged gearbox/chain and sprocket feed roller drive for maximum power transfer