I've had a Tohatsu 9.8 for a season now, purchased from Discount Marine and Boat Supplies - Inflatable Sales - Defender
(btw, their end of year sale is going on now) and I'm very pleased with it. Had a Suzuki 6 hp a few years ago, I was never fond of it. I've also had the Honda and didn't care for it either.
The Tohatsu, Mercury, and Nissan in the 9.8/9.9 hp are are pretty much the same, the Tohatsu being the less expensive and the Merc having the most bells and whistles.
When I was researching which outboard to buy, I called several outboard engine repair shops and most said the Honda's are "over engineered", the Mercs are also a bit overdone, the Tohatsu was the most recommended brand. I also hear great things about Yamaha, but seems they are typically the most expensive or similarly priced to a Honda? Not positive about though?
BTW, I believe the difference in the Tohatsu 9.8 and Merc 9.9 is max RPM?
Some quick search on Defender, the first one is about what I paid for mine two years ago:
Tohatsu $1775 (2011 model) Tohatsu 9.8 HP 4-Stroke Outboard Motor
Tohatsu $2100 (2012 model) Tohatsu 9.8 HP 4-Stroke Outboard Motor
Merc $2476 (2011 model) Mercury 9.9 HP 4-Stroke Outboard Motor
Merc $2755 (2012 model) Mercury 9.9 HP 4-Stroke Outboard Motor
Yamaha $2811 Yamaha 9.9 HP 4-Stroke Outboard Motor
Honda $2911 Honda 9.9 HP 4-Stroke Outboard Motor