The Merit 715 E isn't quite the value it once was with the addition of a price increase this year.
Last year, when it was selling for under $400, the 415 E gave quite the bang for the buck, now it's just another ho hum elliptical that doesn't quite spec up to Proform.
The Merit 715 E is no longer a great value. At $467, the price increase made this elliptical a worse option than it once was. Right now, it's a mediocre machine in a low price range. It doesn't have the quality or durability you want, but that's not uncommon at this price point. Even if you're on a budget, we suggest moving up a couple hundred dollars to a price range that produces better models.
Ergonomically speaking, this machine is terrible. Only a few ellipticals from xTerra offer a less natural range of motion. The lack of adjustability is also concerning. The stride length is fixed at 16", which is a bit small. If that doesn't work for your body type, you are out of luck. There are also only 8 levels of resistance. Hopefully, you'll have the ability to align your workout with your fitness levels, but there is no guarantee.
As far as projected reliability is concerned, this model is awful. There is not a single elliptical that we reviewed that has a shorter life expectancy than this one has. The quality of parts is also very disappointing, yet unsurprising at this low of a price.
The noise levels of this machine are very high. Most ellipticals make about the same amount of noise, but those that sell for less than $1,000 are typically a bit louder. This is one of the few models that is very loud. If quietness during operation is a major concern for you, you can find better options for a couple hundred dollars more.
The warranty on the Merit 715 E is as bad as it gets. Parts and labor are covered for 90 days, the brake is covered for 3 years, and the frame is covered for 5 years. While this amount of coverage is unimpressive, it matches the lack of durability.
The Merit 715Es won our 2012 2nd runner up in the under $399 category is the Merit 715. The Merit 715 gives you a good bang for the buck. We just warned about whether or not the bang is the machine breaking when you are using it.