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Hand planers come in a couple of varieties, electric and hand and they really serve 2 different functions. Hand planes have been around in one form or another for a centuries and are used in many areas of woodworking. Electric hand planes are a somewhat recent addition having been around for the past 30 or so years.
The electric version, which is what we are dealing with here are more associated with building type construction and carpentry and even home renovation, than they are to fine woodworking. That's not to say that many of us don't have them, just that they get used less frequently by woodworkers than a carpenter might or renovator might. For example, I do a LOT of woodworking and I'm not sure I use mine more that a couple times a year, but when I do, it works great for what I need.
One of the issues with electrical hand planers is their short length and the amount of wood they can plane down in very little time. The short length, like any plane, does not allow for a huge amount of control in terms of making a board straight and flat, and if the blade is set to a low depth, a person can sometimes do more damage than good when working with fine tolerances.
My plane gets most used when I have some rough lumber that I am planning to run through the jointer and later of the stationary planer. Sometimes this wood gets some nasty jags in it as it comes from the mill. Rather than run these boards dozens of times through the joint, sometimes it's quicker and easier to hand plane these down to a workable stage with the electric hand planer.
When using the electric hand planer that are a few things I have learned ...