The Merit 725 E was an award winner last year, but with a price increase, it looks to be just another cheap elliptical.
The most important advice I can give to any elliptical buyer in this price range is to save up your money if you want a home elliptical and spend at least $600. Otherwise, you are really just wasting your money.
The Merit 725 E was a great deal last year, but the price increase doesn't look good. At $465, this is not a great value. That's not a good thing considering this price range doesn't ever produce any quality ellipticals. You'd be much better off saving a couple hundred dollars, so you can get a machine that is worth buying.
Ergonomically speaking, this machine is awful. Aside from a few of Xterra's models, nothing we reviewed provides a less natural range of motion. The lack of adjustability is also concerning. The stride length is fixed at 16". If this doesn't work for you, there's nothing you can do to fix it which is unfortunate because it's a short stride. There are only 8 levels of resistance, so that will hopefully give you the ability to align your workout with your fitness levels.
As far as projected reliability is concerned, this model is terrible. You won't find a single elliptical that we reviewed that has a shorter life expectancy than this one has. The quality of the parts used is also very disappointing, but that's to be expected because of the low 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 are 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 one of the worst we've seen. Parts and labor are covered for 90 days, the brake is covered for 3 years, and the frame is covered for 5 years. The warranty is disappointing, but it matches the lack of durability.
The Merit 725 won our 2012 3rd runner up award for the $399 and under category with a good value proposition. A good value, meaning that you don't have to spend much money to buy a machine that you probably won't use much anyway, because if you did use it consistently we figure it would last about 6 months. But we have recommended buying a better brand or spending more money if you want an elliptical that will last.