Pros: Power, convenience, speed, handling on level ground
Cons: Handling on inclines, pointless chipper
Purchased this on sale for 549.99, and after using it twice I think it's worth every penny.
Our yard is small, less than 1/4 acre, but because of our location and bowl-like terrain we get tons of leaves. I needed something to ease the demand on my back from raking and bagging or hauling the leaves to a compost area, which used to take the better part of a day and threw my back out more than once.
I did the job with this yard vacuum in less than 2 hours, with very little strain. Had to empty the bag six times (compared with filling, lifting, and emptying a trash can several dozen times). The bag opening could stand to be bigger, but the mulch comes out OK with a couple of good shakes.
The ground vacuum works great. Set at a medium height, it picked up a thick layer of leaves thoroughly in one pass, plus lots of small twigs and acorns. No jams, stalls, or plugging. However, if you've got the vacuum nozzle set too low, you will find the front edge will keep bumping into lumpy patches of turf, or the beginning edge of a hillside.
The hose works just fine, plenty of suction, but I wish it were a few feet longer to get into my deeper beds.
Wear a dust mask and noise protectors, because there will be plenty of both.
The electric start on my mower has spoiled me, but the pull start on this yard vacuum worked nicely. In 45-degree air, whether the engine was cold or warm, it started each time with just one yank.
Handling was simple enough on level ground; it seemed easy to direct the ground nozzle to edges, corners, around trees. But be careful even on gentle hills--only run it across the incline, and if you have to turn it or maneuver on a hill, because of the weight, make sure you've got your feet planted really well (not on a layer of slick leaves).
The small chipper is sort of pointless, and it's more work to use than just picking up limbs and carrying them away in a bunch. So I wouldn't buy it if you need a useful chipper. But I don't expect to use it much, or miss it either, since it's not why I bought the machine.
Overall I would recommend this machine without hesitation to anyone who mainly needs the leaf-vacuum function and has mostly level ground, and with a minor caution to anyone with hilly terrain. It works well and saves your back.