Which hot air rework station?

well, here’s my opinion:

  1. the ‘real’ station was the Hakko 850 (then 851, 852). It’s a Japanese unit and they did a lot of R&D to create it.

  2. the ‘fake’ ones are Chinese copies of the Hakko. They copied the way it looks right down to the yellow over black design, the location of the controls, the nozzles, etc. It’s a knock-off to the extreme. They even called them the 850, 851, and so on (857A). They then called their ‘companies’ stuff like ‘Quakko’ to make it sound like ‘Hakko’ but also they are sold under a hundred other names like, in Spark Fun’s case, ‘Aoyue’

I think that normally this sort of thing would be grounds for some serious legal action, but I guess it’s considered OK in China. So to be quiet honest, I would go get the Hakko or (if you can afford it) the Cooper Tools ‘weller’ station. If you can’t, then buy a used Hakko or Weller on eBay.

I must agree with this. I think it's very unethical of Sparkfun to support these knock off companies. Also, it should be noted that the knock offs, though cosmetically nearly identical, are not functionally identical. The one I have specific experience with is the Hakko 936. These units do not heat up as fast as the 936. Additionally, the handle is prone to overheating to the point where it cannot be held. Lastly, they are prone to breaking. I have heard many reports of the temperature control pot on the 936 clone breaking.

Definitely stick with the real thing.