We ended up buying a Troy-Bilt 31cc machine, which has the added capability of changing functions with interchangeable heads. Click click, it's a pole saw. Click-click-click, it's an edger. Click, it's a hedge trimmer.
No idea what the replacement heads cost, of course. But I like the idea of a multi-purpose tool, and it whacked weeds very effectively once I figured out how to work the bloody thing.
First off, it took forever to start it. Then it wouldn't stay running. Then the string came off and the auto-feeding line spool wouldn't feed fresh string, so I had to figure out how to used the fixed-string attachment.
...once I got past all that, though, it was beauty itself and I was able to trim around the entire house in a matter of minutes.
Then I sat down and read the manual. Yeah: it was my fault, because if I'd read the bloody manual first here are some of the things I would have known:
1) The primer bulb must be pushed ten times, not three as with other engines.
2) The fixed-string attachment needs the spring from the spool attachment. (I found this out while I was still working, though. After it had thrown the fixed string twice.)
3) It's perfectly fine to operate the thing with the choke half on. As long as the engine runs correctly there's no problem about it. This thing's designed to run a long time, not the few minutes it takes for me to trim the yard after mowing.
4) The loading procedure for the self-feeding line spool is not as intuitive as I'd thought it was.
...so it's my fault the thing wasn't working right. *sigh* Normally I'm so good about reading the freaking manual, too. My reputation has taken a hit.
Anyway, so it's not particularly heavy or anything, but my arms aren't used to it, so they're aching a bit. Worse, my back hurts, because the thing is just a little too short for me to stand upright while using it.
Story of my life; that's what I get for being tall. All this stuff is designed for little shits.
But it's nice and quiet for a 2-cycle engine. No ear protection needed, unlike with the snow blower. And once I ironed out the wrinkles it hacked the weeds in nothing flat. I found myself saying, "Wait, is that all there is to do? Did I miss something?"
No. It's just that without having to futz around with an extension cord it takes that much less time to finish the job.
The only remaining issue is that I got spattered with shrapnel. It blasted leaf bits all over my legs. Well, I can clean up pretty easily, so F it.
And the yard looks great.