Pros: Solid construction, Easy operation, Long comfortable stride, Programmable ramp and resistance, quiet smooth operation
Cons: Heart rate monitor erratic
I am reviewing the CX990 (upgraded model). I bought mine from Sears on sale, and bought the extended warranty (4 years in home coverage). It took my wife and I about 3 hours to assemble the unit (it does take two people). The main base portion was a bit heavy to lug upstairs. Assembly was straight forward --the instructions seem to have been improved since the previous review. Operation is straight forward (if you read the manual first). It takes about an hour of operation to get used to the two numeric status display which rotates between various parameters. I won't repeat the technical specifications here, because they are available on the Nordic Track site.
This is the first Elliptical that I have used, so I did not know how I would like it after using it for a while. I have had it for several weeks now, and I like it much better than a tread mill.
I was pleased with the quietness. The only noise, came from the upper body workout arms going clunk as you switch from pushing to pulling. That is because of the play in the sliding bar. Of course if you turn on the fan, it makes a little noise too. If I have a mind to, I could apply a spacing washer to take out all the play and make it even quieter, but it is not enough noise for me to bother with improving it.
The operation was as smooth as silk. I felt more like I was swimming than walking --very low impact. With the ramp at 10%, the stride is long and the upper body gets more workout. With the ramp at 30%, it becomes more like a stair stepper and the upper body does very little work. At this setting, you need to increase the resistance more the heavier you are to keep the action smooth. You can also peddle in reverse. You can get a varied workout with all the adjustments.
I only weigh 150 pounds, and I could cause the upright portion of the unit to flex from side to side with the upper body arms. It was acceptable, but I would not recommend this unit to anyone weighing over 225 pounds. If you are a really big muscular person, you will need a more expensive and more rugged machine. If you are a really big fat person, lose some weight with walking and diet before graduating to this machine. Otherwise, you may break it.
The only thing I was disappointed with was the hand grip pulse rate monitor. It did not work very well. The readings were erratic. I got readings from 110 bpm to 140 bpm when I was going about 135 bpm. It kept missing beats. It did not matter if my hands were wet or dry, walking or standing still. It was just about useless. They offer a wireless chest strap option, but I opted to get a highly rated wireless chest strap and watch monitor for less than half the price (Acumen Eon Basix $45). It works perfectly for both my wife and I. It is much easier for a pulse rate monitor to operate on a continuous stream and it is much easier for me to gage my workout with a continuous readout also. I expect that the wireless monitor option would also work fine, but the display would rotate between several functions so you would not get a continuous readout.
I ordered and tried out one of the iFit CDs with the unit. It adjusted the resistance automatically, but would not adjust the ramp incline. However, it is so easy to adjust the ramp or incline with just a single button push, that I actually found it easier to unplug the Cd player from the machine, and just punch in the new settings when announced. The resistances were too low for me anyway, and I was always overriding the CD manually. In fact, after a few sessions I discovered that most of the programmed workout sessions were not worth bothering with.
I found the most enjoyable way of running the machine was to operate in manual mode, with a favorite CD or mp3 playing. I keep my heart rate in the target zone by going faster or slower while making various adjustments to ramp and resistance to vary the workout. I burn more calories per minute and feel better than using any of the "programmed" workouts.