Let me start by saying that this was the 3rd roller I ordered from Amazon.
The first one was 2-15inch rollers that could be combined into a single 30 inch roller. This thing was creaky and pure junk. Returned it.
The second one was one of the rollers that have multiple "zones" and there are a thousand similar ones on Amazon. this one was rock hard and hurt like crazy on my muscles. Returned it.
This Vortex roller, I originally looked at because my dad had received one for Christmas. I had tried it out and it has a softer, rubbery outside with the nice uniform grooves in it. I had tried the "cheaper" alternatives as mentioned before, but ultimately I ended up back at the Vortex roller. Its not the longest at 18 inches, and its not the cheapest (at $40), but it is definitely the best for a beginner to foam rolling. It is super sturdy and I expect to be able to hand this down to my kids one day(assuming foam rolling is still in fad then)
Buy this one and don't waste your time with any others.