I love it when someone having a bad day takes it out on someone not looking to break the bank while still getting something accomplished. Nobody wants to pay more for something than what it's worth, but that's not a tangible metric in all reality as the worth of something is what that certan individual deems it to be. So anyone wanting to sound tough in the net in a similar situation take this advice, don't do it. You only make yourself look like an ass and that's not worth the 1minute of satisfaction you gain making posts like that.
I feel your pain OP though my wife is actually pretty undderstanding. It doesn't help that I'm a pretty handy mo fo and could probably keep even the lowest quality equipment running for quite a long time. Just try your best to let her know the facts and that what you want to buy and plan on doing with that purchase actually is saving you money in the long term.
I'm a huge fan of Craigslist/finding old crap someone else doesn't want and making it run like it should. My current back pack blower is an early SN Echo PB-300E. I'm certian the models you are looking at/listed in the first post would blast it to the noon but for my needs (1/3 acre with a 35' Cleveland pear/2 35' green ashs'/about 40% of my neighbors 50' pin oak in my yard) it does the trick.
I'm sure you could find the models you listed on CL that are a year old or maybe even brand new for under your $300 budget.
If all else fails do like I do. Ask yourself "is she going to divorce me for doing this"? Chances are probably not!
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