Pros: Powerful, ease of use and cleaning, priced right
Cons: a bit noisy
I always wanted something better than my old 140 Watt hand-mixer so I checked out the newest (300 Watts) of the hand-held mixers. The problem with those (at least to me) was that I've never seen one used to make bread, mix icing, and do anything other than mix a store-bought cake mixes. So who needs a new mixer if all you intend to do is mix the pre mixed cake mixes?
Therefore the alternatives are either the much more expensive Kitchen Aid - as seen on every Food TV show - or some other brand - like Kenmore. Kenmore because I could check it out at my local Sears store - and which town in North America doesn't have a Sears nearby? So if I ever moved, there was always someone to at least talk to in case I needed it anywhere in North America. And besides, I wanted a powerful tool but I didn't want to pay through the nose. So, if after checking out the 2 Kenmore mixers, if they looked or felt like junk, I would end up paying through the nose for a Kitchen Aid.
Originally, I didn't know Kenmore made a powerful stand mixer and they indeed make 2 versions. I checked out both versions at the local Sears store and quickly eliminated the cheaper, less powerful version because it just felt cheap and the attachments were lacking. I needed a mixer, a real tool, to do some heavy duty mixing; like making cake icing or make whatever bread dough I felt like baking. The final decision was between a KitchenAid and the Kenmore KSM 100.
Cake icing consists of mixing one cup of solid vegetable shortening with an entire pound of powdered sugar along with a very small amount of liquid. This mixture is very thick. And I could envision that a less powerful tool would eventually fry its motor. The bread doughs are less taxing to the motor until you add the last cup or two of flour. Then they become very elastic and pull away from the bowl but are not nearly as thick as the cake icing.
So here is a listing KSM100 features:
600 Watts is very powerful. I've used it since Jan '03 and it's a champ. It's never once become warm. I've felt the motor casing and it is always at room temperature.
Heavy duty paddle. It cleans easily, even with dried icing all over it.
Heavy duty dough hook. Works great and is easily cleaned.
Heavy duty whisk - beats egg whites to perfection.
(Note: Attachments have a locking ball that is pushed/pulled into a socket. No difficulty whatsoever attaching/removing any of them. They do not wobble and feel very secure.)
16 Speeds - when I've made icing or bread dough, it starts out fast for a few seconds, then slows down and runs at constant speed. If you increase/decrease its speed using one of the buttons, it works just fine. However, you can actually lift the running hook or paddle out of the bowl. There is no auto shutoff feature if it's lifted out of the mixing bowl. The only auto shutoff feature is to prevent motor overheating. To reset after overheating (although I have a hard time imagining how you could do that) there is a red reset button.
Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl - It's large as I've made large breads which contain 6 cups of flour and almost 3 cups of liquid. This takes up about 1/3 of the bowl's volume. In addition, the bowl has a nice-sized flat bottom and is locked into place onto the mixer's base. There is also a plastic pouring attachment that fits onto the bowl.
Kitchen Aid Attachments - such as a meat grinder or pasta maker can be used. The instruction manual even says you can buy & use them. I checked out the attaching nut before I bought the mixer and it is exactly the same size as its Kitchen Aid counterpart. Why anyone would buy a motorized pasta machine is beyond me. It's way more fun and easy to make pasta by hand with a hand-cranked tool.
Color - The KSM100 comes in any color you'd want provided you want a white one.
Noise - OK, it's a bit noisy but it does not interfere with my AM radio reception.
Overall - a great value. I thought I may regret it but I don't ever think about the fact that it's not a Kitchen Aid. I don't run the machine more than 5 or 6 minutes at a time so the noise factor is very minor. If there were a 10 point scale, I'd give it a 9.5/10