I'm still eyeing the Festool TS55 plunge circular saw, but $500 is nothing to sneeze at so I'm not rushing into it. I do need something so I can at least do some basic cuts myself so I decided to buy a Ryoba-type saw. Japanese saws are different from their western counterparts in that they cut on the pull action which is said to make cleaner cuts and easier. Although this is still in dispute, the thinness of the blade definitely isn't.
I decided to get a Ryoba saw because it has teeth on both sides with one size for rip cuts and one side for cross cuts. When I did my first cut with this saw I was I shocked as how easily it went through the wood. Cutting oak took almost nothing as the saw just went right though it!
For $30 plus a $7 cutting jig, I'm now able to make straight or miter cuts that are finish quality (no circular cut lines from a power saw that requires sanding to smooth out).