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Treadmill Console Performance

The console displays on budget treadmills are sometimes lit from behind but are usually easy to read, according to reviews. The exception to the general satisfaction among consumers on this front is the console on the Gold's Gym GG480, which users posting reviews at Walmart find difficult to read, particularly in dim light.

Budget treadmills provide correct information for basic indicators such as workout setting, elapsed time, incline, speed, and distance traveled. However, other displays may give misleading data because you can't program your gender, age, and weight into the system. Even the best cheap treadmills we found don't have that option built in, although you can set up a profile if you buy iFit Live for the ProForm Performance 400. (One user who reviewed the Weslo Cadence G-40 at Walmart figured out that the calorie counter is calibrated for people who weigh 185 pounds, so the formula for figuring out how many calories you've burned is your weight divided by 185, multiplied by the calorie readout on the machine -- more than most people likely want to calculate.) For all the treadmills that have heart-rate monitors in the handgrips, we saw many complaints that they don't give accurate readouts.

Treadmill Assembly.

Most treadmills weigh more than 200 pounds, so it's best to assemble a treadmill where you are going to use it. Several purchasers say it was worth paying extra to have a delivery service to bring a treadmill up the stairs, and many say it might be worthwhile to pay for assembly. However, putting together a cheap treadmill doesn't seem to have been a strain for most people. Bargain treadmills come with the tools you need to do the assembly, although reviews indicate that people who are more mechanically inclined tend to use their own tools.

In reviews of the Horizon T101 on Amazon, reported assembly times range from half an hour to several hours, mostly depending on the mechanical ability of the user. Some had problems assembling the console because the bolts didn't line up perfectly. The same issue comes up in reviews of the Merit 725T Plus, which takes about half an hour to assemble, according to users posting reviews on Amazon. Most people who mention assembly of the Gold's Gym GG480 in reviews at Walmart say it was not a complicated process; one person adds that a husband would have had a much easier time if he had read the instructions. Generally the Gold's Gym GG480 seems to have taken between one and four hours to put together, with most users falling on the low end of that range. As with other models, reviews indicate that having at least two people makes the job go faster and there are some problems with screws not lining up.

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Treadmill Durability.

Reviews by long-term users of budget treadmills are few and far between. Most comments come from consumers who have recently bought a treadmill and are newly energized and enthused about their at-home exercise routines. As a general rule, treadmills with more powerful motors last longer, as long as they are used as intended. Most people posting reviews of the Horizon T101 on Amazon are pretty happy with the machine after using it for several months. However, one who ran at 7 mph three or four times a week found that the Horizon treadmill broke after a year and a half. A user posting a review of the Weslo Cadence G-40 at Walmart is still happy with the Weslo treadmill after more than two years of using it several times a week. However, a 165-pound user who ran 7 to 8 mph for 30 minutes daily found that the deck cracked after only a week. Consumers posting reviews of the Gold's Gym GG480 at Walmart report some issues with the belt drifting a bit over time, but nonetheless rate the treadmill highly. One reviewer says it is still working perfectly after a year of use by three people, although another who ran 20 miles a week on it says it broke after a year and a half. Expert reviewers at Treadmill Talk suggest that the Merit 725T Plus, like other bargain treadmills, might have a short lifespan if you are close to the 250-pound weight limit; a heavy individual walking slowly puts more stress on the machine than a light person running.

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