Pros: Easy assembly with clear instructions, sturdy frame
Cons: speed on monitor is in MPH
After some internet reading and a little store-hopping, my wife and I settled on the Eclipse 4000. We had set out to purchase the ProForm 700, but ended up spending a couple of hundred $$$ extra on the Eclipse because its frame felt much sturdier and its stride path felt much more natural than the awkward and creaky Proform model.
We've only had the Eclipse for one day, but I was very pleasantly surprised when I got it out of the box and started looking at the assembly instructions. I had set aside a good 3 hours for assembly but only really needed one. The hardware came neatly organized and clearly labeled in a single blister pack, which really aided the assembly process. Everyone knows how frustrating it is to try and put something together when you're faced with a big bag of nuts, bolts, washers and screws, many of which are very similar in appearance but differ just enough in size to really screw things up if you install the wrong ones in the wrong places. Not so with the Eclipse. After getting everything out of the box and looking at the blister pack of bolts and screws I found myself thinking "This CAN'T be all there is. There MUST be a big bag of hardware missing." The assembly instructions were also simple and clear and a pleasure to read. All the tools necessary to assemble it are included, although you may find yourself wishing you had a REAL phillips-head screwdriver and a socket wrench in a couple of places. Overall, though, I can't say enough about how surprisingly easy this was to assemble.
The stride path is smooth and natural and the flywheel is surprisingly quiet for an elliptical in this price range. There is a small amount of sway only because ours is placed on carpeting in our bedroom; I imagine using a plastic mat will resolve that minor problem. There are no knocks, creaks or squeaks of any kind and the frame feels absolutely solid.
I like to have a selection of several fitness programs to choose from; this one has a total of eight. The large 8x16 dot matrix LED display is easy to read and will be immediately familiar to anyone who has used fitness equipment in a gym.
The owner's manual that comes with the unit needs to be updated. It is heavy on diagrams and instructions for stretching and designing workout strategies, and is very light on how to actually use the machine. Also, the information that is present on using the machine was probably written for an earlier model and never updated, and is thus inaccurate. (Example: the manual says to adjust the resistance by turning a knob, but the 4000 has no such knob... you adjust the resistance using buttons on the console.)
The only other complaint I have is a very minor one: the speed readout didn't immediately make sense to me. Moving at my average pace, the speed monitor registered around 10, and when I slowed down went down to about 4-5, and when I pedaled my maximum, got up to 15-17. Nowhere in the owner's manual does it say anything about the speed scale or what these numbers mean. I had to call customer service, who told me that the speed readout is in miles per hour, which is not particularly useful in my opinion. I'd much rather see the speed in steps per minute, but you can't have everything I guess... especially in this price range.
Overall, I would recommend this piece of equipment to anyone who wants an elliptical for under $1000. I think its construction is solid and the monitor is great for its list price of $599. Of course, we've only had it for a short time, so I may be updating this review in the future regarding its long-term durability.
If you're thinking of saving some money by getting a Proform (or other model) for $400 or less, do yourself a favor and consider spending a little more on the well-built Eclipse 4000.