I was looking for a rowing machine to see if I would find rowing more enjoyable than a treadmill or exercise bike - I had used one years ago and really liked it. I looked at some VERY nice rowers that were nearly $1K - a lot more than I wanted to spend on an experiment! So I was very happy when I ran across this, sub $100 rower. Other rowers I'd looked at in this price range had the individual articulating arms, which I'd used before and knew were problematic, difficult to get into any real rhythm with and a pain when one of the pistons wore at a different rate - it gave you an uneven rowing experience. I was also attracted to the sheer simplicity of design on this one... a seat that moves up and down, a place to strap in your feet, a single arm with wide handles attached to an adjustable piston. From a maintenance standpoint it couldn't get much simpler.
As other reviewers have noted, it took me about 10 minutes to assemble this - literally it only involves attaching the piston, attaching the monitor and threading in the foot straps. Easy! Using it has turned out to be pure joy! The unit is very compact and very light, so picking it up and moving it is a breeze. I moved it into my den to put it right in front of me and right in front of the TV, making it super convenient to use.
The counter will monitor your time spent, your strokes, the total cumulative strokes, and calories burned. It's not sophisticated, there's no way to input your current weight or age so the estimation of calories burned is only that - an estimation. But I ignore everything but the strokes anyway, aiming for upping my stroke count as I go.
Some reviewers noted the seat is a little wobbly, and that's true, but I have found that if you take a moment to center yourself on the seat before you start that wobble goes away completely. I find the seat is quite comfortable for a brief workout, but is a little hard if you're rowing for longer than 15 minutes or so, which I resolved easily enough by adding a cushion to it.
The rowing motion is very smooth - how could it NOT be with such a simple back and forth design? I really like that the piston is adjustable, so as I build endurance and strength over time I'll be able to increase the resistance.
My original thinking was I'd spend less than $100 to see if I enjoyed rowing as a cardiovascular exercise, and if I didn't I wasn't out that much money, and if I did I could always upgrade to something better down the road. But I have to say I am quite happy with this unit as is - I don't see me changing to a higher end unit anytime soon. It gives me quite a workout - by the end your heart is pounding and your legs feel like rubber! - but I also really like that it is a true all-body workout - every major muscle group gets involved.
Overall, for the price and quality, I don't see how this can be beat - I'm VERY happy with this purchase and would highly recommend it.