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on August 3, 2010
I had been using a Proform elliptical for a few years until it started to breakdown. It had a 18 inch stride and provided a good workout. After the Proform started to give me problems I knew it was time to start looking for a new machine. My first inclination was to go with a Schwinn since my parents had a Schwinn recumbent cycle and I had always thought it was a quality product. I read the reviews on the Schwinn 420,430, 431 and the new 460. I live near a Dicks sporting goods and went to see what they had to offer, although they had Schwinn recumbents on the floor, they didn't have any Schwinn ellipticals to try.

They did have 2 Sole models, the E25 and the E95. Once I stepped on the Sole E25 I felt the quality of the machine, the E95 was even better but at 80+ inches long it was not of interest but the E25 was. The Sole E25 was priced at $950 plus tax. I then started reviewing other similar ellipticals and came upon the Spirit Esprit line which I came to learn was made by the same company that makes Sole.

In my reviewing I discovered that flywheel weight is important, the heavier the better it seems, that's the thing that gives you the smooth feel, instead of a choppy run where you exert effort on each peddle on each individual stroke. It's hard to explain until you feel the difference but the flywheel weight makes the difference. Cheap machines don't mention flywheel weight because they don't have it.

The Schwinn's come with a 25 lb flywheel the Sole E25 has a 23 lb flywheel, this machine has a 30 lb flywheel and you can feel it. It takes a little effort to get this thing going, but once you do it wants to just keep going. This provides a boost for those times that you feel like slowing down, this machine pushes you to keep it up, you can slow down on the pace but it takes a few revolutions. I bought the Esprit EL-455 for these reasons:

It is shorter in length than the Sole 95 and the Sole 25
It has a heavier flywheel 30 lb
It has heart rate control with telemetry
Adjustable footpads
Back lit screen
20 inch stride
Custom programs
Made by Spirit who makes Sole machines
Less expensive than similar Sole

The Schwinn 430 may be better but I don't know since I couldn't test one. The Schwinn 460 was intreging but as it's new I wasn't willing to take a chance. Once you get a 200 lb machine delivered and then assemble it, the last thing you want to do is have to take it apart and send it back.

I've only had the Spirit for 1 day so I can't advise on much beyond assembly but it wasn't to hard. It took about 2 hours. 30 minuites was cutting the box and unpacking, 30 minuites was trying to feed the electrical wire through the column, I ended up using a coat hanger to push it through. The rest went pretty smooth but I was trying to be careful to do things in order and right because I know that if you screw up the assembly you might never get another chance to get it right.

Upon trying the machine I found it very smooth and quiet as I expected it would be. I went for 20 miniutes and was sweating pretty good. I'm used to going 50 minutes, but then I was already sweating from putting the thing together so I'll leave the full work out till tomorrow.

Just a note about delivery, I choose to take the free delivery offered by Amazon, total price was $999 no tax no shipping, they notified me a week after my order that the order had been shipped. Once I tracked the order I found that it had already arrived in my town and was ready for delivery, 10 days before Amazon said I should expect it. The delivery man wheeled it up my driveway and placed it in my living room exactly where I wanted to assemble it. The invoice said I had inside delivery included. I was worried I might have to pull it up the driveway myself because I didn't pay for preimium delivery.

I'll update in a few weeks after I put the Esprit EL -455 through it's paces.

Update - The machine does not have or use a heart rate strap and can only use the stationary grips for heart rate control programs. As I use a separate heart rate monitor, this is not a problem for me. It does make the heart rate control programs rather useless unless you don't use the swinging arms and keep your hands on the stationary grips. The machine itself has had a few minor skweeks but they seem to have gone away with use. I did spray a little wd40 on the joints this morning and the machine made very little noise at all. The work out is good, I have set up a program that keeps it on level 3 for 52 minutes. Once I build up some endurance I plan to try some of the programs that vary the level.

Update 2 - The manufacturer Spirit emailed me and now says the machine does use a heart rate strap they just don't include it. They suggested I could purchase one from them. As stated before I use a clip on HR monitor so I won't be trying the strap. After 2 weeks of use I am still very pleased with my purchase, the ride is smooth and quiet a real work out. Still on level 3 but my avg. speed is increasing, got it up to 82 RPM's briefly today and my HR is staying lower so I'll need to increase the resistance soon. Haven't tried the speakers as I use earbuds, so they are really useless to me.

Update 3 - About a month in I am very pleased with my purchase. The machine is quiet and smooth. I have 2 seperate user programs, one is more aggressive than the other. I use them both depending on how hard I want to go that day. Sometimes I use the easier program one day and then the harder the next. I set a long workout of 52 minuits so the preprograms are not used as they are all 30 minutes. I expect this machine to last many years and I intend to use it at least 3 - 4 days a week for as long as I am able. At 52 I spent most of my life as a couch potato, I am overweight but after six months on an elliptical 4 times a week for an hour, I am wearing clothes I haven't worn in years. The best part is that I feel good all the time and I have pride in the fact that I have changed my life around. Yes, I dread starting each workout, I think about quitting early every time, but I don't, I finish, then I feel great the rest of the day.
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on June 10, 2010
This is an excellent machine! Better than the LifeFitness machines at the gym.

Easy to assemble - comes with all required tools - though use of a ratchet is recommended for speed. The only "hiccup" with assembly is attaching the pole that holds the display to the main unit - requires a little bit of a wrestling match (a helper would be a good idea here - I was solo). There are only 4 steps in the assembly and the bolts are separated by step. If you have basic "toolbox skills" this is a very easy assembly.

Have them leave it in your garage or by the door if you don't have any stairs to negotiate. You can cut the box at the bottom and lift up - then move all the parts to the assembly area. This makes for an easy clean-up. The only heavy part is the flywheel - but it is easy to move as it has wheels.

Also, the feet are heavy duty cushioned rubber. It is not necessary to order a Mat. In fact, if you are planning on moving it into position for a workout a Mat would be a waste of money. We have nice hardwoods and I am confident this machine is not going to harm them.

Ordered from Amazon on Friday night for $999 with free shipping. It was delivered on Wednesday. I live in Metro Atlanta and it was shipped from Arkansas. ABF shipping is great. First ring pick-up to a human being to arrange delivery...awesome experience.

The machine is attractive, movable, silent, and heavy duty. It has a great back-lit display panel with an ample rack capable of accommodating a large book (it is positioned so that you can comfortably read while exercising). A storage cubby for MP3 etc. and a nice, properly sized water bottle holder on the pole. There are several workout modes or you can use manual and just go. Resistance is 1-20. 20 is very hard as this is a substantial machine. It tracks calories, speed, and seems to accurately read a pulse. Provides a nice summary at the end of the workout.

It also comes with an MP3 input, a cable that will fit any MP3 player via the headphone jack, and a fairly nice set of speakers. You control the music from the player - there is no complicated interface.

I weigh 210 pounds and my wife is 5'6" and the machine accommodates either of us perfectly.

A Spirit machine is number 2 on the list of Consumer Reports latest ratings (out of 29). Based upon my exhaustive research and testing, all of the Spirit Machines are basically the same. The number one machine on Consumer Reports retails for $2,600 and this machine is comparable in quality.

If you want to get a feel for the machine...find a local specialty store that sells Spirit (Or Esprit by Spirit - they are the same-it doesn't matter which model except for the display and the flywheel weight) and check it out. They will not be able to match the deal from Amazon and they have to have it delivered too...so what's the harm in ordering from Amazon?

I ordered the 455 for the heavier flywheel. Which I recommend.

In summary, I agonized for weeks over this decision. Trust me...this is a great machine and an incredible value. We are going to cancel our gym membership and save $$$. You can't go wrong.

GET IT!!!
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on December 17, 2011
 **** ORIGINAL REVIEW ****

My wife and I shopped around quite a bit before selecting the Spirit Esprit EL-455. The EL-455 was rated well on Amazon and on ElipticalReviews.Net ([...]). Rating as good quality, good features, and good price for the features.

Our EL-455 arrived yesterday (12/16/11) and the first thing we noticed was how sturdy it is. It has a solid, quality feel.

Took an hour or two to assemble. Not difficult. But I recommend using your own socket wrenches because it will take too long to crank in the bolts using the open/boxed-end wrenches that come with the EL-455.

We got it assembled, plugged in the ipod for listening through the EL-455's built-in speakers, and we were immediately impressed with the quality. So smooth. The price was a little higher than we wanted to pay but we were happy that we spent a little extra when we felt how smooth it glided.

But then after a few minutes we noticed a scraping sound coming from the flywheel area. We looked around to see what was causing the light scraping sound and noticed that the glide wheels were running off the rails at about the mid-point of the stroke. (there are two wheels on each side and each wheel, which are concave to sit on the rails, sits on a rail). It appeared to us that there was some sort of alignment problem that was causing the wheels on the left side to ride up and then off the rails. No problem on the right side. We tried tightening bolts but that did not help. Frustrated, we went to bed (it was now 1:00am). In the morning we called Spirit customer support. (thank goodness they are open on Saturdays).

Customer service rep was fast. No waiting on the line. Within minutes the customer service rep informed me that they will be sending replacement parts via FedEx and that a service technician would be calling to schedule an appointment to install the parts. I did not ask what parts would be sent but I did ask the service rep whether he thought something was bent. He said that problems like this are typically lose bolts or alignment problems and that he doubted that it was caused by lose bolts in this case. So, sounds like Spirit has seen this type of problem before (which is good news, bad news. good news is that they know how to fix it and how to fix it fast). My feeling is that our EL-455 will be awesome when the replacement parts are installed.

The only bummer is that we are eager to use it but it'll be a few days before the parts and technician arrive. Oh well, we'll survive. There are worse things in life.

By the way, normally I don't pay too much attention to warranty details when selecting products. I figure that most warranties within across a given product type are more or less the same. Well, I guess I lucked-out because the EL-455 warranty is very good: lifetime warranty on frame and brake, 3 years on other parts, and labor expenses covered for the first year. Whew, I lucked-out and I'm happy that I'm cover for a few years in case something else happens.

**** UPDATE 12/23 ****

Replacement parts arrived on 12/23. I installed the parts. Easy to install; just 3 bolts. My wife eagerly jumped on the machine and started peddling. Oh boy, the left-side wheels now stay on the rails. But the right-side wheels now run off the rails. I looked closely and noticed that the left-side wheels sit perfectly on the rails. i.e. The wheels are concave and the center-line of the wheels sits over the center-line of the rails. But, on the right-side the inside or outside edge of the wheels sits on the center-line of the rails. This is causing the right-side wheels to ride off the rails. Called Spirit Customer Service on 12/26. New parts are being shipped. I'll install them and update this post. My wife and I are getting concerned about the quality of this product. We can give benefit of the doubt and assume there are no design problems, but there seems to be manufacturing and/or inspection problems otherwise how could both the left-side and right-side need replacement parts and how could the replacement parts fit better than the original parts.

**** UPDATE 12/31 ****

The replacement parts for the right-side arrived. We installed them. The Eliptical works fine now. The secret: the wheels on the left-side and the right-side sit perfectly over the center-line of the rails. SEE THE VIDEO THAT I UPLOADED FOR A SUMMARY OF THE PROBLEM.

**** UPDATE 1/3 ****

OMG, now there is another problem with this machine. It's now making a clunking noise in the handle bar. One clunk with each and every stroke. I'm really concerned about the quality. Good thing that I purchased it on Amazon because they will refund the cost and send a freight company to my house to pick it up. The only hassle is that I need to disassemble and package the product.

**** UPDATE 1/21 ****

Amazon customer service is outstanding! They sent a freight company to pick-up the elliptical at my house. Within about a week Amazon returned payment to my credit card. After the return. we decided to purchase a rear-flywheel elliptical. It's much smoother operating. That was a lesson for me: i.e. we paid a couple hundred dollars more, which i really did not want to do, but we ended-up with a smoother operating machine. If you can, go with a rear-flywheel machine. The difference is that there is no track/wheels and so the ride is smoother and no troubles with the wheels running off the track.
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on March 21, 2011
A very quick summary of my experience with the Spirit Esprit EL-455 goes like this: I haven't been able to use my machine in the two months since I have purchased it. Details follow below.

I bought the machine in the middle of January. Delivery was within the time frame expected for this type of product, absolutely no complain there.

Assembling the machine is not difficult. Simply follow the manual and you should not have any problems except that one part was missing. Not too big of a deal, it was just the front cover which is there only for aesthetic. I thought that I could just call later to have that part shipped. The machine is heavy so if you need to take it up of down the stairs, have one or two people helping you.

After assembly, I tried the machine at a low pace. Everything seemed to be working perfectly: the machine was fully functional, stable and very smooth. All that I wanted. However, in my first workout, as I pushed harder and increased speed, I noticed a clunking noise coming from the left side. I stopped thinking that the problem might be coming from the machine not sitting perfectly leveled in on the floor. I used a level, made some adjustment and tried the machine again. The clunking noise was still there. Going back to the manual, it says to tightened up every screw before calling service. I did just that but it did not solve the problem.

So I called Spirit Fitness to service my machine. Waited on the line for a while, the period after the Christmas holidays is apparently the busiest of the year. I talked to someone who then ordered that parts be shipped to me and who told me that someone who call me within three days to schedule an appointment to service my machine. I ordered at the same time the front cover that was missing. A few days later I received the parts: the missing front cover plus a few washers...

LAPD engineering, the company that was going to server my machine, called me to schedule an appointment. I think this was within the said three days or, if not, not much longer than three days. Very unfortunately, I was not able to take the call but the person left a message saying to call back. I did call back, many, many times and never got an answer. I tried for almost a week and I nobody ever answered the phone. I finally called back Spirit Fitness who then called again LAPD engineering. I received a call a couple days later to schedule an appointment a week and a half later. So, in total, between my first call to Spirit Fitness and the time my machine was first service, it took about three weeks...

Service does not mean however that the machine gets fixed. The person who came over to my place did practically nothing. He basically concluded that the cause of the problem was me. I have a bad ankle from a previous injury which slightly reduces my flexibility. He said that the problem came from me lifting my heal on the left side. I always keep the front of my foot on the pedal though. I did not agree with that conclusion but naively accepted it. I never had any problem with an elliptical machine at the gym because of my ankle.

I tried using the machine a few more time keeping more weight on the left side to stop the machine from clunking. The problem only kept going worst. The pedal on the left side now lifts up and get off the track. I called Spirit Fitness again and other part were shipped to me and was told that someone would call me within three days to schedule an appointment. I received the parts quickly. The call however never came. Not exactly true, the call came 10 days later after I called Spirit Fitness twice.

Right now, I've had my machine for about two months and been able to use it only a couple of times. Second service is scheduled in a few days but I doubt that it will solve the problem. My diagnostic is a problem with the fly-wheel, or the attachment of the fly-wheel. I can't be 100% sure because I don't want to open the machine and void the warranty. The parts that were sent to me are unrelated to the fly-wheel.

At this point, I strongly consider returning the machine. The problem however is that I will have to pay for shipment, which is expensive for this type of product. It is also difficult to pack an elliptical ready for shipment.

########## Update April 5, 2011 ##########

The machine was finally repaired a week and half ago. I'm surprised and happy that it is actually now working properly. My diagnostic was wrong. I've done about a half dozen workout so far and the machine is working very well. The only thing that I notice is that while working out, if I readjust one of my foot sometimes the wheel would come off the rail.

As another review points out, the calorie count is lower than from other machine (e.g. Precor). The speed reading is also lower. These are not issues to me as long as the calculation is consistent from one workout to the other.

I added one star to the review because I find it enjoyable to use the machine. I'll add one more star if the machine is reliable for an extended period of time. I won't go higher than three stars though given all the problems that I had.

########## Update July 19, 2011 ##########

It's been a few months and the machine has been functioning. Not always smoothly but it has been working. I use the machine four or five times per week, for an hour each time.

I have discovered a few things. It's a good idea to grease those joints during assembly. I had a noise squeechy noise on the left. It was gone after I took the parts off on the left side off and greased everything. I later had a banging noise on the right side. That took me a bit longer to find out where it was coming from. I tightened all the bolts but the noise remained. I finally discovered that it was two broken washers on the wheels. Those curved washers keep the wheels stable. I fixed the machine myself. It was not difficult because I had some washers from the first package that Spirit Fitness sent me. There are on many other parts of the machine that use the same washers and Spirit Fitness does not include any extra one with the machine. I expect those to wear out again. The fix is simple and not costly. I don't know however if it's possible to find those washers at the store. I later changed another washer because it had sort of flattened and was causing some noise.

I'm not ready yet to give one more stars. I don't expect the machine to be perfectly silent but I don't expect banging noises. I'll wait to see what happens with those washers.

########## Update February 19, 2013 ##########

I should have updated before, totally forgot.

I upgraded my rating to three stars. The reason is that the machine has been overall reliable. I still have the issue with the washers though. Every two months or so, one of the washer breaks and the machine starts making banging noises. I'm getting good at changing the washers as it now takes me about two minutes. I'm almost out of washers though. I'll have to find those somewhere or get Spirit Fitness to send me more.

I still don't know if I ended with a defective machine or if it is because of my use of the machine from my bad ankle. Other than the washers issue, it's been working very well.
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on September 18, 2010
We were looking for something under a thousand dollars that worked well. Of all the ellipticals that we looked at, we liked Spirit the best. Schwinn was our second choice but we saw Spirit and Schwinn side-by-side in a shop and Schwinn looked a bit cheap and flimsy in front of the Spirit. Reasons why we picked Spirit:

1) It has the heaviest flywheel of all comparable models (30 lbs). That makes it very smooth. Light flywheels can make an elliptical choppy and not fun to exercise on.
2) Dual concave wheels on the rails. Cheaper machines have a single wheel on each rail. This machine has two on each and those wheels are pretty solid. This results in a smoother motion and durability.
3) The elliptical motion does not put too much stress on the lower back. Many of the ellipticals that we tried put too much stress on the lower back as well as at the end of the cycle I would feel a little jerk on the knee. This Spirit does not have any of those issues. Its the smoothest machine of all that we tried.
4) 20 inch stride - It is very important that you buy an elliptical with a stride that feels natural to you. For me 20 inch was more natural and closer to my actual stride.
5) Absolutely no noise of any kind while exercising. The ball bearings are very high quality and rubust. A tube of grease is included with the machine and I highly recommend that you apply some grease to each joint during installation so you don't have to worry about it for at least an year.
6) The display and its controls are easy to read and easy to operate.

The machine is very heavy and if you have to take it through stairs, you need two people. Opening the box and getting the machine out is a chore in itself but well worth it in the end. This is the kind of machine that will motivate you to exercise more. Installation is a breeze and took me an hour not including the time to take the individual parts out of the box and carry them upstairs to my exercise room.
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on January 27, 2011
We ran into one fairly major problem with our machine. A pair of fasteners was not installed inside the wheel during factory assembly (factory's fault, not ours) and it started making a rubbing noise the second day we had it. I had to call twice to get a service-person out to our house, so it ultimately took him about a week and a half. However, he was thorough and competent. He fixed the problem the same day he arrived, and plans on doing a "follow-up" visit in the next couple of weeks to make sure everything is still running well. I found the phone number on the website for spirit fitness (800-258-4555, in case you need it)

Assembly was pretty much a breeze. I was expecting it to be much more complicated (based on what I had read about "Sole" brand ellipticals).

The machine is incredibly quiet. I can easily do a workout while watching TV without having the volume turned up beyond what it would normally be set at. I haven't used the "program" feature, but there is a ton of variety between workout options. It is sturdy and substantial--doesn't feel like you aren't getting enough support or like it is going to tip over at all.

All in all, it is exactly what I was hoping for. Minus the glitch in the very beginning, everything has been perfect.
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on September 17, 2011
Let me say that I am very happy with this purchase. I am a working mom and going to the gym just doesn't "work out" for me. I really wasn't sure about spending this much, but I am so happy we made the decision to get a better machine. The gamble is of course: if we don't use it, how much money will we have wasted, but we are using this.

* It was pretty easy to assemble.
* It is super quiet. I mean: you can do it while the kids are falling asleep quiet. Sometimes it gets a noise (sort of a wheeze), and in the manual, it says: you will swear it is coming from inside the flywheel, but it is really just some dirt on the runner wheels. This is true: it sounds like it is coming from inside, but we just keep a plastic bag with the a lint free cloth and the lube nearby and wipe it down. Coincidentally, it happens most often when we need to vacuum. : )
* It is sturdy. It does not ever feel like it is going to fall apart under you, even if you aren't tiny. Even if you are above average in weight. We looked at less expensive models - and they felt less sturdy. I decided that the extra $400-500 would matter to us - if you feel good on the machine, it makes it easier to get back on it. I read that the weight of the flywheel matters, so this had the biggest flywheel we could find in this range.
*Because it is quiet, not clunky, and sturdy -- I actually use it (I am at 3x a week, up from 0).
* I calculated: I used it once a week, then twice a week, now am at three times a week. Seriously - I would NOT have gone to the gym 25 times in the same time period. I think we break even cost wise at 1 year, and sooner depending on how much my husband and teenager use it (and 3 gym memberships/one family membership is pretty pricey) too. Furthermore, if I wasn't going to the gym but paying for it -- which was a possibility -- this is definitely more cost effective than that.
* Settings and console: plenty of settings (interval, hill, cardio, fat burning and a few more.) It also has level of difficulty. It tracks elapsed time, or a pre-set work out time with a countdown, laps, calories. It has two user memory buttons (which are a little hard - if you push the wrong button trying to save a work out, you lose it and can't save it, but alas...). The little set of speakers is fine, although it would have been nice if they could get a bit louder. Sometimes I'd like to have the sound up, but still be able to hear (the kids in the tub) rather than wear earbuds. My only other wish would be that it would keep counting after you complete a preset workout time (i.e. I go for my 20 minute countdown, and then it keeps counting if I decide to go longer) but this isn't really a big deal. It matters more that I keep going, less that I measure it.

I bought this in late May; this is mid-September, so three months in we are still very satisfied with the purchase. We are using it more not less. I'd say that speaks well of it.

Age: 44, work full time, have three kids and although I was active in my 20's -- its been awhile -- if any of that helps you in your decision.
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on February 10, 2011
Couldn't be happier with my purchase of Spirit EL-455. It came pretty quickly, I made an appt to have it delivered on a Thursday at 9am, according to the shipping tracker option, it was in town 2 days before that. It was delivered by Pilot, they were on time, if anything they were early, knocked on the door at 8:58am.

Anyway, I wanted to let people know about the machine, things about it that I did not read in other reviews. It has an A/C adapter, no batteries to deal with. It has 5 different modes for workout: Hill (graduated up and down of levels until it briefly plateaus, then it graduates back down), Fatburn (gradual buildup, long plateau, then back down), Cardio (again, almost like Hill, but keeps you at higher levels), Strength (gradual step formation, 4 minutes at each level, then cool down), and Interval (like the name implies, 2 minutes each of really high level and really low level). You can manually put in your level (I jumped right into my Max Level being Level 15) when you start your workout, highest Level is 20. You can also program your favorite workout with the Level you want, I personally haven't messed with that yet. The workouts are 20 minutes; if there's a way around this, I haven't figured it out yet. I'm used to doing 45 minute sessions, so I just end up doing 2 20 minute sessions on this particular device.

Like others have stated, it's really quiet, it makes a little bit of swishing noise, but really, can anyone seriously expect a workout product like this to be totally silent? I can hear my chosen TV program without having to turn up the sound at all, normal TV volume I would use being a couch potato. Hopefully this may answer any questions out there, any other info I add after this point has already been listed by other reviewers.
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on March 26, 2011
We love our new elliptical!, we have had a Tunturi, it was also around the same price, everything cracked off of it, foot pads were the first to go. It was a welcome surprise to receive this husky, machine! it was relatively easy to put together due to some of the machine being already assembled.
What should be said, and never is, at least not in any of the reviews that I had read, nor in any of the specs that I read, mentioned that this machine actually is duel directional, which in layman's terms means that you can go either forward or backward, we so wanted this feature but none of the other machines had it, believe it or not! Thank you for this wonderful machine, we do love it.
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on March 31, 2011
Update: after two visits by a service technician, the device works fine. It's very stable and quiet. I've increased my rating to 4 stars, deducting one for all the initial inconvenience.

------------

What a disappointment. After spending two hours putting it together, following directions that included the mislabeling of a couple of key pieces, the machine wouldn't work. The screen kept saying "Motor Error." The manufacturer sent me a new motor, and a service technician came out a few days later to install, but he still couldn't get it to work. Now I have to wait for yet another part to come in. Very disappointing for an item that costs so much.
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