Pros: Power, easy access to add ingredients, easy clean-up.
Cons: Not all parts (aluminum) can go in dishwasher.
Being an Engineer by trade, I appreciate equipment that is well designed and truly delivers what it promises to do. This machine meets and exceeds those requirements and expectations.
Like another reviewer, I grew up with one of these. My mother bought one in Sweden in the early 1960's, and she had "all the attachments" to it: meat grinder, juicer (no longer manufactured), separate beater bowl with whisks, shredder, blender, etc. How long did it last? She had it for over 30 years, and the only thing that wore out in that period was an O-ring in the large mixing bowl. She used this for everything in her kitchen, but most of all large batches of coffee breads - cinnamon rolls, etc.
When I moved here to the US in the late 1980's I could not find one of these here - before Internet, searching for things were much harder. I finally ended up buying a KitchenAid (unfortunately I was believing what I saw on cooking shows on TV, where these machines are always plugged...) Even though it was rated 350 watts, it could barely handle a one-loaf recipe for toasting bread calling for high-gluten King Arthur flour. It often overheated when making it, and finally the gear-box seized(!).
Sooo... guess if I was happy to discover the Bosch Universal on the Internet. I ordered one after thinking about this for quite some time, and the first thing I made was - you guessed it - the toasting bread. Started with the one-loaf recipe. The machine ran as if the bowl was empty! I stopped it, and doubled the batch. Now it was working, but you could hardly notice any slow-down or sounds indicating that it was struggling with anything. This has already become a favorite with our entire family, and I am sure that it will last me for 30 years as well. The fact that the basic design has lasted for decades with very minor changes speaks for itself: why change a winning concept?
My sister, who still lives in Sweden, opted to buy an Electrolux Magic Mill (which is also available here in the US). The Kenwood (we had this in home-ec. class in school) is similar in design to the KitchenAid, but with more power.
After using them too, quite extensively - my ratings of kitchen mixers would be as follows:
Whatever you make by hand or in your other mixer will be easier in this one - and you can make larger batches!
Some details on this machine:
It comes with the 5 Qt. mixing bowl with a dough hook, double wire whisk attachment, clear plastic mixing bowl rim and lid (a.k.a. splash guard), and depending on how you specify it when ordering - with or without a 6 cup blender. However, look out when your order it, because sometimes you can get a better deal by buying the mixer without the blender included, and adding the blender as a separate line item(!).
The 5 Qt. mixing bowl attaches to the low speed spindle on the lower extended part of the mixer housing. You simply center the bowl over the spindle and "drop it in place", making an ~1/8 clockwise turn. Same with the dough hook: it drops in place with an ~1/8 turn counterclockwise on the center tap of the mixing bowl, and is held in place by the turning of the motor. The harder the machine works, the more secure the bowl, hook, lids or any other attachments are. Yet, when it is turned off, they are all very easy to remove - there are no threads that can bind or lock pins that can seize or jam.
And yes, the rim and lid attaches with the same familiar ~1/8 turn...
The double wire whisks replaces the dough hook on the center tap of the 5 Qt. mixing bowl. They are mounted on an "upside down V-holder", and spin around the bowl. The upside down V makes the whisks not only spin around the bowl - with the V-shaped holder, they are spinning at an angle, and not straight vertically. This gives the whisks a lifting motion to the batter, and they simulate the same motion you would do when you manually whisk air into egg-whites or cream, for example. You will find that you get a much better volume to your batters with this setup, compared to the more common, vertically mounted whisks in other machines.
The blender attaches to the high speed spindle, with the same ~1/8 turn to lock it in place. It runs directly off the motor without any gear or belt reduction. It has a lid with a center hole and small funnel-type stopper in it: you can add oils when making dressings or mayo or any other liquid through this, while the blender is running. With 700W on tap, it will pulverize, mix and blend anything (almost..) you put in it: chop nuts, grains, crush ice, make drinks and smoothies - it is up to you. With all the power reserve, you can actually run the main bowl and the blender at the same time, if your wish.
There is a multitude of other attachments, which I have not tried here yet, but will add to my inventory soon. I have used them on my mother's machine, so I am familiar with them. First off is the meat grinder. The reason that I want this, is that the meat grinder is the base for many other attachments (see list below). To use the meat grinder, you attach it to the low speed spindle (~1/8 turn!) and tip the unit on its side. Simple and ingenious!
Second choice would be the 12 cup slicer/shredder. Eventually, both of them will find their way into my kitchen.
Cons: Yes, I do have some gripes, but I can live with them:
Not all parts can go in the dishwasher (the parts that are made of aluminum - the highly caustic dishwasher detergent will ruin any aluminum).
Food or dough can get inside the center column on the Makrolon? mixing bowl, and it is a bit tedious to clean out.
If you make a really small batch of dough, the dough hook may have problems kneading it. But why would you make just one loaf of bread?
Weight: with bowl and dough hook - 12.5 lbs
Dimensions: 9" deep, 13" wide. 10" high with the mixing bowl installed.
Mixing bowl: 5 Qt. Makrolon? mixing bowl with center post for attaching dough hook or wire whisks.(Makrolon? is a super-high strength polycarbonate plastic, made by Bayer - practically indestructible) The bowl attaches to low rpm port. Can handle up to ~12 lbs. of dough.
Three-arm dough hook/paddle, used in the 5 Qt. bowl.
Double wire-whisk, used in the 5 Qt. bowl. This whisk set is heavy duty - you can cream (room temp) butter and sugar for cakes with it.
Clear plastic splash guard (rim) with clear plastic lid. Keeps all your ingredients inside(!) the mixing bowl. The rim and lid covers the entire top of the bowl, yet allows you to see what is going on inside the mixer. No more clouds of flour in your kitchen!
Blender: 6 cup blender, attaches to high rpm port.
700W motor with resettable thermal overload protection (circuit breaker). The circuit breaker is a pushbutton, accessible from the bottom of the unit.
Power cord storage - you spool up the power cord on the back side of the unit when you go to store it.
Flat belt drive transmission - no plastic or cast cog-wheels gearbox that can break. (As a side note: my mother never had to change/replace the belt in her machine...)
Three speeds plus a "pulse" function, where the motor is on for as long as you hold the switch.
Slicer/shredder - 12 cup capacity, comes with three different disks. Shredding/Grating (reversible coarse & fine), slicing (reversible thick & thin), and French Fries. Runs on the low speed spindle.
Food Processor Attachment - 5 cup capacity. Comes with traditional food process blades and three different disks: Slicing (reversible thick & thin), shredding and grating (reversible fine & coarse), and potato grating. Runs on the high speed spindle.
Classic stainless steel bowl - will handle up to 14 lbs. of dough. Comes with its own dough hook, which is slightly different from the one used in the Makrolon? bowl. Cannot use the wire whisks.
New style stainless steel bowl - similar in style to the Makrolon? bowl - but it has a removable center column. It uses the "regular" Makrolon? bowl dough hook. Has slightly larger capacity than the Makrolon? bowl when used without the center column and the dough hook mounted in the bottom of the unit. Can use the wire whisks with the center column installed.
Batter whisks - similar to the standard whisks, but with a different spacing between the wire loops to allow for thicker batter.
Cookie and pastry press (requires meat grinder)
Fruit and berry press (requires meat grinder)
Nut and cheese grater (requires meat grinder)
Pasta maker (requires meat grinder)
Sausage stuffer (requires meat grinder)
Good luck with your purchase. I think you will be happy with it.