Lower-end elliptical trainers may not come with the array of options more expensive models offer, or a warranty that covers every aspect of the machine. There are a number of low-priced ellipticals on the market that are highly rated, however, and that don't skimp on performance or features. Focus on the elliptical's performance when making your purchasing decision.
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NordicTrack AudioStrider 990 PRO
The product review website Fitness-Equipment-Source.com chose the NordicTrack AudioStrider 990 PRO, which retails for about $900, as a best buy for 2011. Some of the 990 PRO's main features are its power incline and folding design, ideal if you plan to use your elliptical sparingly and are short on space. The elliptical is designed with a rear drive flywheel and has arm handles that control the resistance level. Additional features not commonly associated with lower-priced ellipticals include an MP3 docking station with speakers and a built-in cooling fan.
The Horizon EX-69 is considered by AllEllipticals.com as a quality elliptical trainer and a good value at around $850. The machine has a front drive system with a 17.6-pound flywheel and features a 20-inch stride length. You can customize your workout with 16 levels of resistance and eight preset programs. A manual incline offers five positions and the foot pedals are outfitted with Horizon's patented ComfortFIT pads with traction edges. Console features include a MP3 docking station, surround-sound speakers and cooling fan.
Smooth CE 3.6
The Smooth CE 3.6 was chosen by AllEllipticals.com as the 2011 best value buy and retails for approximately $1,300. The elliptical's rear drive flywheel design aims to provide stability and promote a fluid elliptical pedaling motion. The CE 3.6 adapts to an ankle's natural movement through the use of pivoting foot pedals. This feature further engages your lower-body muscles and saves your joints from wear. The elliptical's computer tracks your heart rate and automatically adjusts the intensity of your workout to keep the heart rate in your target zone. A lifetime warranty is included with the CE 3.6 for the frame and braking system. Parts are covered for three years and labor is included for two years.
NordicTrack CX 990
The NordicTrack CX 990 retails for about $900 and was named a best buy option by the review website EllipticalTrainers.com. The website notes that the CX 990 is designed for low to moderate use, making it a good choice if you plan on using it for only three to five hours per week. The elliptical features an incline range from 10 to 30 percent -- a feature typically found only on higher-end elliptical models. The arm handles work out your upper body and include touch panels for measuring your heart rate. The data is displayed on the computer's monitor, which also has eight preset programs. A one-year warranty accompanies the CX 990.