I went to HD and saw the John Deere recertified trimmers they had for $69. Looking at it, they are the same as the Homelite in looks, only green. The JD has a 1hp engine, and the Homelite one most similar to it was $170 and its also a straight shaft.
I looked at the JD website, and the model I got (comes with the trimmer and the brush cutter metal blade) lists MSRP as $189. It can accept attachments also.
Its much more powerful I think than the Ryobi, starts easily every single time, and is quieter than the Ryobi. My neighbor went out and bought one himself, although he didn't see the brushcutter model I had and just got the plain trimmer model for the same price (everything else was the same).
I've used my other neighbor's edger attachment (he has a Toro) and it works fine, better if used walking backwards, but since I got used to edging with the trimmer (twist the lower portion and go), I prefer the clean cut of the trimmer string. Gives it a cleaner, more pronounced edge to the grass.
I've known a person that uses the blower attachment (retail $45) and likes it. I got the Wallyworld Weed Eater el cheapy for my birthday so I'm not needing that attachment.
the .095 string is also very tough. I'm bumping it MUCH less than the .080 of the Ryobi.
Some folks would b hesitant t get the refurbished JD, but at least i know its working now (I could have gotten a lemon with a "new" trimmer that wasn't refurbished) and it still has the full warranty. Came with the sholder strap too.
all in all, if you want a nice trimmer, you might want to consider the JD ones at Home Depot.