After much research I settled on the SP180 as a compromise between cost, value, features and engine manufacturer.
From taking it out of the box and assembling it (which was essentially fitting the handle and adding oil) to pulling the start cord took about 30 minutes. Started first time.
Considering our 0.5 acre lawn hadn't been cut for nearly four weeks and was a good 3 to 4 inches in length it performed exceptionally well, taking me around 90 minutes to mow - largely due to the number of trips needed to empty the grass collector! Adjusting the height of the blade on the go was a breeze. In the end the final finish was brilliant. Second use coming up this weekend so hoping for a similar positive experience with the blade on a lower setting.
However, compared to the self-propelled mower I was using it does seem to be more self-propelled. The speed at which it moved did catch me out, and on a number of occasions I felt I was having to hold the mower back. Keeping the self-propelled part going while turning sharply did result in a few wheel-spin marks in the lawn but after a while I got used to letting the throttle out when turning sharply.
Excellent service from MowDirect and I would certainly recommend both them and the SP180. A great balance between performance, value for money and ease of use.