I read hundreds of reviews about the various Horizon Fitness products listed on Amazon, and finally decided to purchase the EX-69-2, the successor to the EX-69 elliptical. The EX-69 had a lot of favorable reviews- at the time there were no reviews for the new model so I was hesitant. My initial impression with this model has been excellent. First, take the reviewers seriously when they say this is a large package! The box arrived on a pallet and weighed over 200 pounds, be sure to have some help moving it. I ended up doing what one reviewer suggested in other reviews and moved the parts individually into the room where it would be assembled.
The box had some dings on the outside, but upon opening the package, its clear a lot of thought went into packaging it. The top of the box is reinforced with a wooden support, presumably to add structural strength to such a bulky item. There was no damage to any of the components inside. The parts themselves are labeled L and R, easing assembly. The instructions were pretty straightforward, I'd suspect anybody who has ever assembled Ikea furniture will be able to successfully put this together. I took other reviewers advice and applied some white lithium grease to all moving parts. During assembly it will be pretty evident areas that will be moving. So far I haven't experienced any of the dreaded squeaks that other users have complained about.
I found the overall quality of the Elliptical to be outstanding for a sophisticated exercise machine priced so reasonably. All parts appear to be strong and well welded. I didn't experience any of the thread issues other reviewers had with some of the older versions, everything went together very smoothly. Perhaps Horizon took a hint from all the Amazon reviews and is more observant to quality control.
The interface is basic monochrome green but very functional. There are several programs built in, though I typically just opt for the quick-start and adjust the resistance as desired. The built-in fan is a nice touch, it aims right at my face, though other users might have a different experience based on their height. The heart rate monitor works well and is very responsive. I cannot attest to the accuracy it provides, however. A previous reviewer noted the beeps the console makes. I agree that the elliptical is very loud to start, however there are volume controls built in that turns this down. A tip- if you press and hold the volume button, it will continue to turn the volume down, instead of hitting the button repeatedly and having it beep with each button press. The volume adjustment will not holdover after the machine goes into "energy-save" mode though.
Exercising with the elliptical was very similar to my experiences with elliptical machines I have used at the gym. Initially I thought the stride might be 1/2 to 1 inch shorter than commercial machines, but the stride wasn't bothersome after a minute or two. Admittedly, its been a while since I've been to the gym, so my recollection of my experience with those machines might be hazy. The only downside if I were to name one so far is that this elliptical feels slightly less stable than commercial models. I suspect that since this is a more compact machine that it just doesn't have the bulk and width that stabilizes more expensive machines. With that being said, it didn't impede my workout at all. Incline adjustment is simple. I haven't used it too much in my workouts so time will tell how useful the feature is.
So far I have been very pleased with this purchase. I hope to have many years of trouble free use out of it. If I experience any issues I will update accordingly.