In general, I'm not a Weller fan. I think they're much like Sony and HP in a way. They started out being synonymous for great stuff and then started to crank out cheap consumer crud with a higher price and the name everybody equated with quality. Their better quality items are solid and unquestionably dependable, but they're pricey and a bit industrial when you get to the higher end items.
Any active temp control station is going to be GREAT
, but I've not used that particular one. I don't see any reason to think that it would not perform like a champ for many years.
I've had a few Wellers over the years and while they were solid workhorses for production, the style I had regulated the temperature via a mechanism built into the tip. Want 650F? Change the tip. Want 700F? Change the tip again. Perfect for soldering the same thing over and over, but not as good for prototype work. I've also had a couple of consumer grade Wellers, and they became trash a long time ago.
I got a Xytronics digital station almost 20 years ago and the element finally failed after 18+ years of abuse (some of it rather severe). The case isn't as nice as the Weller, but it has been a solid performer. I also like that it has a read/set switch. After the element died, I decided to just get a whole new unit ($80) and I picked up the SMD tweezers ($50) at the same time. It's about the best $130 I've spent recently.
Meet the new iron
, it's almost the exact same as the old iron from 20 years ago. The wand is a little different and I see they have the original style available as a replacement part. Now when I get a new wand for the old iron I'll have one for the portable toolkit.
Circuit Specialists just started selling this one
for $50 with digital control.
Several people here (including Doug Hammond and B Tremblay, I believe
) have this one
which doesn't have the display, and speak very highly of it. You just can't beat it for $39.