I did a lot of research before making this purchase--I wasn't about to spend a load of cash in this manner if it appeared that one of those cheaper steppers would end up doing just as well. However, after owning my machine for about a month and using it regularly, I have to say I'm impressed! First of all, I will admit it took a couple hours to put together. The small parts (bolts, washers, etc) were extremely organized and labeled. The larger parts can more or less be distinguished from the pictures, but you need to be a careful reader. I wouldn't attempt assembly alone if I were you. Also, when it came time to attach the electric console to the base, I rummaged and found slightly smaller screws because the ones included for it were a bit too long and large in circumference (and I triple checked, they were the intended screws). After proper full assembly, all the parts roll and glide smoothly--no grinding, nothing is loose (although with ANY product, regular maintenance should be kept up to avoid future squeaks, etc). I haven't had to tighten or adjust anything yet and I've used it 4 days a week for 20-30 minutes each. So far so good. You have the option of using a regular programmed workout, a programmed workout with voice recording, or just hop on it and go. The regular programs vary the resistance and have a variety of lengths from which to choose. As you are working, you can adjust the resistance very easily by pressing a button right in front of you, even if it is a pre-programmed workout. I don't use the fan on the console much, but it is right there and easy to adjust should you need it--also there is a cup holder for that water bottle during your hot workout! The voice on the crosstrainer "coach" is a smooth female voice, not a digital-sounding universal voice as I had feared I would be getting. You can adjust the volume of the voice as well--you just need to look in the manual to see what key sequence to use. As you're working out, the console shows you your resistance level and an image that looks like a bar graph to show you when it will change. On the programmed workouts, it measures in minutes and the levels of resistance will have a bar for each minute--the one you're on flashes, then when it's getting ready to change, it beeps to let you know. The display will also rotate calories burned, distance (measured in revolutions), time, and your pace.. the machine lets you know if you need to step a bit faster or slow down to maintain your ideal heart rate as well. I had been uncertain as to whether any of these would be worth it, or really would be quality enough to be useful--after using the product, I believe that it was well worth the money! Anything more expensive will have some bells and whistles that are unnecessary, while this one has just enough features to be more smooth and enjoyable than a regular cheap stepper/elliptical. The resistance adjustment was a big thing for me--I was determined to be able to easily change it in the middle of a workout, and that is definitely easy to do. I quickly felt the burn in parts of my leg that I hadn't worked in a while--I certainly recommend this product to anyone looking for an elliptical machine workout at home!
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