This was a close race. Most of the units in the test provide the big air and quick recovery we need. What separates the winners are smart features. Since the best features are so unique and good, I picked two winners: the DeWalt D55575 and the Porter?Cable CPFC2TV3520W. The DeWalt's ball?valve drain plug works perfectly, the adjustable pilot valve for constant run or start/stop is great, and I love the unit's ability to run at 120 or 240 volts. It also refills its 17?gallon tank quickly. Porter?Cable's four?hose detachable manifold is brilliant. I love leaving a compressor outside or near power and only bringing the controls inside?on one hose. Also, the Porter?Cable is "maintenance?free." While the skeptic in me thinks that only time will tell what "maintenance?free" really means, the compressor worked perfectly during every phase of the test.

Close behind is the extremely well?built Rol?Air. I like its rugged construction and the oil?inspection window. The unit functions beautifully, even when below 90 psi. The Craftsman also is a no?frills unit that works well; however, the plastic on its belt housing may be susceptible to damage. Its oil change is the best in the group and it provides plenty of air. The Campbell Hausfeld follows the others because it didn't supply the power and consistency of air that my nailers need.

Steve Veroneau owns Transformations, LLC, in Falls Church, Va., and is a contributing editor to Hanley?Wood's TOOLS OF THE TRADE.

Sources of Supply

Campbell Hausfeld
Model VT6290: $407

Model 19541: $390

DeWalt Industrial Tool
Model D55575: $849

Porter?Cable Corp.
Model CPFC2TV3520W: $499

Model 5520HK17: $689 to $749