It depends on two things: What you are going to use if for, and what
you are comfortable with.
When I was framing houses many years ago, I used a sidewinder. I liked
it a lot. However, some of the guys that came to work or sub from me
used the worm drives. I didn't like them, but boy did I respect their
power. They could take a blade that I took off my saw and use it for
another week to burn the whole blade blue without choking down the saw.
I didn't like the worm drives because they were heavier, and all of
them were left bladed, which meant the that saw sat on the piece that
was going to fall off. Not a big deal with a wrap around table/shoe,
but I like the saw to be on a surface as solid as possible when
I also couldn't use the worm drive on finish paneling and it was
uncomfortable for long rips; I was unable to use my "finger rip guide"
as I had to that point without scaring the crap out of myself. Nor was
it as easy to use with my shop built rip guides to do finish ripping
for cabinet shelves, etc. For ripping soffits, decking, siding, and
just about all framing, it kicked ass.
That being said, if you buy a worm drive, you will never need to buy
another circular saw in your life just to saw wood. Some may be better
than others, but they are all tanks.
If you are going to use the saw around the house for building a deck,
repairing fascia, putting in shelves, some light remodeling and for an
occasional project, get a sidewinder. I personally didn't like the
DeWalts or Porter Cables simply because they have grooved shoes. When
trying a compound miter cut (think repairing the >>scribe<< cut fascia
corner of square cut rafters or scribed paneling inside corner) if you
catch the table on a splinter or knot in the grooves it will cause the
saw to follow your the splinter and squirrel your cuts. You cannot
follow the scribed line to the degree of accuracy I like.
I found the little Makita sidewinder and it is a good all around saw,
but light on power. Talking to some of my guys a couple of years ago
they pointed out to me that Makita also made that saw in a heavier
version with better controls and better feel, plus it now had a 15 amp
motor. I bought it, and I am happy with it and use it all the time,
while the other saws I bought have become "crew saws".
I grew up in the trades using Milwaukee, Rockwell, and Millers Falls
saws, so all the newer offerings look weak to me. I have an old
Milwaukee that I used for about 15 years almost every day, and rebuilt
that bad boy 5 -6 times with new bearings, trigger and cord. It is
now cheaper to just buy a new saw, most of which to me are glorified
Most of the brands mentioned here and the ones that will be mentined as
favorites are probably all good saws, so you will probably be fine with
whichever fits your hand the best.
My .02. As always, YMMV.