I paid $300. for basically the same machine, 3 years ago, and loved it. I wanted to get one for my daughter, but they don't make my Baby-Lock any longer. This is nearly identical, by the same manufacturer (under a different name, according to my dealer), and half the price! I was all set to pay $300. again, but when I stumbled across this one, I took a shot, and got TWO machines, for the price of one, and I'm thrilled. Pros:
* This is the front load bobbin, so no jamming issues from the top loaders.
* Metal Guts! YES!!! Never get plastic, and spare yourself the headaches. This thing is heavy, and heavy duty! (No bouncing around when you sew.)
* It comes with plastic bobbins, but it will fit the metal ones (the ones with the holes in the sides). I tossed the plastic bobbins, already. : )
* It's quiet, and runs smoothly. It made a bit of noise using the bobbin winder, but that may just be working out the kinks on day one. (I'll update if it becomes an issue.)
* One step button hole. No more messing with 3-4 separate steps. It does it for you.
* YOU can adjust the thread tensions. I like to control my own settings, thank you.
* It has that nifty needle threader. My tired old eyes really like that.
* It has more stitches than you'll likely ever use. I had 18 on my older machine, too, and I never used more than about 6 of them, and only about 3 of those, regularly.
* Needle position is adjustable. For those who need precise seam allowances for quilting, you can adjust the needle position. Cons:
* It won't allow you to drop the feed dogs. Now, if you don't know what that means, it won't matter to you, anyway, and if you do, this gives you a plastic insert that makes the feed dogs lower than the stitching surface, instead. Unfortunately, that raises the foot, increasing the pressure, and limiting the ability to slide the fabric around while you sew. I don't do a lot of free hand embroidery, but if you do, this may not be a good option for you. You can't adjust the presser foot pressure, so you're stuck with what it's set for at the factory, and I suspect that little plastic insert is going to be a pain in the long run.
* You can't adjust the presser foot pressure, which is fine for most sewing, but if you quilt, this may be tougher to run on thicker quilts. (Not a huge opening for rolled up quilts, anyway, so if you're doing bigger than baby quilts, you may want to think about it, before buying this one.)
* Not many feet/tools included. It has the regular sewing foot (Metal), the blind hem foot (Part plastic), and the buttonhole foot (mostly plastic, but most of those are...). Also a seam ripper and 3 needles. Not even a lint brush or screwdriver, included. Hmmm... Overall, this is a fantastic machine for the price. I'm an experienced seamstress for 35 yrs, and I'm thrilled with it. If it holds up, I'll be even more thrilled. If you're an embroiderer, or quilter, and you have the money, there are better machines out there for you, but if you just want to sew clothes, curtains, etc, this is a great bargain for a heavy duty machine, from a good manufacturer. I'd highly recommmend this. I got one for myself, and I didn't even need one. It's such a good deal, I'll just donate my "White", which sounds like a truck, and jumps around if I put the pedal down. This Janome is way smoother, and quieter. And this PRICE! BIG YES!