What happens when you leave a soldering iron in its stand and switched on for an extended period of time? You wreck it, that's what. After donkey's years of service my Weller 60D iron had given up the ghost and I had reluctantly replaced it with an Antex 25W iron which I was almost determined to hate. However, I had to admit somewhat grudgingly, that it did a great job. It was lightweight, warmed up quickly, melted solder and had enough power to do about 99% of the jobs I needed it to - all the things you would expect of an iron. After about 6 years of quite hard work and, frankly, abuse sometimes it too shuffled off its mortal inductor and died with the final straw being me leaving it switched on for a week in a stand. There was no risk of fire but I don't recommend it - don't try this at home kids.
A replacement was sought and I decided to go with the Antex again but this time I purchased the XS25 with a snazzy silicone lead. One of the niggles that the original Antex had was that it had a standard PVC lead and it was forever getting pulled over or was a bit clumsy to use compared to my poor, beloved Weller. I have to say that this silicone lead is a revolution for me. No kinks, no snagging and it somehow makes the iron feel more responsive, especially when soldering in some of the awkward spaces that I've tried so far.
Initial impressions are great. I'd have another one in an instant but definitely with the silicone lead. I'm now eyeing up the cheap but occasionally used Maplin 100W iron (brilliant for fitting plugs, sockets, wood burning, starting the barbeque etc.) and thinking about replacing the slightly too short PVC lead with a silicone one to make it even more useable.
Possible cons are that the tip will become wedged on as these irons are prone to corroding over time and that the tips don't last as long as the Weller ones but for the money this isn't a bother.
If you need an iron which will get the job done, is relatively cheap and is very manageable, then the Antex XS25 with the silicone lead is a pretty good purchase. If this lasts me another 6 years then I'll be a happy enough bunny.