Consumer Reports’ ratings for top exercise equipment just came out, and the LA Times helpfully summarized the findings. I’ve subscribed to CR for years, and like the analysis: they are careful, test thoroughly on quality not price, and rate objectively.
In my opinion, the best machine is the one you’ll use. You can burn more calories on a treadmill if you take a full stride, and use your arms! Don’t hold on to the handrails.
Expect to pay $900 up to $3k+ for something that will last.
Top non-folding treadmill: The Precor 9.31. Number is the Landice L7 Cardio Trainer at $3,800 and third is the True PS300. Number 4, and less than half the price of the Precor, is the Sole S77.
Top folding treadmill: the LifeSpan TR4000i.
Top folding treadmills (budget): NordicTrak C900 and the ProForm Power 995.
On ellipiticals, use your arms! Try interval training: fast for a minute, slow for a minute. High intensity workouts burn calories faster and more efficiently. And with a lower impact exercise comes lower risk of injury and the ability to prevent injury.
Top elliptical trainer (also $900 to $3k): Octane Fitness Q37ci (though at 1/3 the price, the Smooth CE 3.6 is #3)
Happy cross training!