In line to check out, I looked at the sale flier.... 3x21" portable belt sander for $25 bucks!
I was finishing up building a workbench, and I needed something which could hog off a lot of material. I had been looking at reviews in FWW, et. al. where the editor's choice would be some $200 unit like the DeWalt or something. This thing was almost a TENTH of that price.
"Jeez," I said to myself, "even if it craps out after a couple of hours, it's still almost cheaper than renting one for that long".
So, I got it....
... and it crapped out after a couple of SECONDS!
One pull on the trigger and it started spinning and I saw a blue flash from inside the housing and the thing went dead.
The only thing that they package along with the sander (besides the instructions and dust bag) are replacement motor brushes... so I had a hunch about where to start looking for the problem. The brushes were easy (as in... trivial) to get to. Sure enough, the brushes had fractured and there were little brush fragments in there that I was able to shake out. I put in the replacement brushes and it worked like a charm.
After that initial hiccup, it ran pretty well. I was able to hog off a lot of material and I got it fairly hot (to the point where I figured that a tool this cheap would surely quit) but it kept going.
After about a 20-30 minutes worth of total sanding time, I started seeing some blue flashes again and the sander started sputtering. So, I stopped it, and noticed that the dust bag was about 1/4 - 1/3 full. So, I emptied the bag, pulled out the brushes (which were still intact this time), and blew it all out with the air compressor. I put the brushes back in and I was back in business.
So, all-in-all, this thing needs a little more care-n-feeding that I'd expect to have to put into a top-brand tool like DeWalt or PC. However, the top brands cost 4-8 times as much... and this thing, in my opinion is *way* better than 1/4 - 1/8 as good as they are. So, the bang-for-the-buck ratio is much higher with this HF sander, I'd say.
And, keep in mind that I'm one of thsoe who normally turns his nose up at HF as well as the rest of us. My bandsaw and jointer are Delta, my air cleaner is Jet, my biscuit joiner, jigsaw, and cordless drills are DeWalt and my router and sanders are PC. So, I usually lean toward the "good stuff". But I really can't find any way to convince myself that my money would have been better spent on a premier sander when compared to this one which costs me less than a tank of gas.
My two cents, anyway...