The Nautilus E514 is essentially the same machine as the Schwinn 420 (Est. $600) with a few key improvements, including a backlit LCD, four heart-rate programs and a better warranty. The E514 offers some good features at a low price, but its durability record is iffy.
Pleasantly surprised. Consumers find the Nautilus E514's performance unexpectedly good, calling it smooth and quiet. The trainer's eddy current brake system uses magnets to create resistance, which allows exercisers to silently change between 16 resistance levels. Some heavier users question the machine's stability, and one calls it a "light-use elliptical" on Amazon.com. He says, "when I started exercising I was 280 pounds, and the machine sometimes swayed from side to side."
A couple of major letdowns are that the E514 doesn't incline, and its fixed 18-inch stride may be short for users about 6 feet tall.
Improved display and programs. The Nautilus E514's biggest improvement over the Schwinn 420 is found in the user programs. It not only adds four Polar heart-rate interactive programs and comes with a heart-rate monitor chest strap but the stationary handles measure heart rate, as well. Also included are 12 preset programs. Workout programs and 16 resistance levels are controlled from the center console.
The E514's major improvement is a backlit LCD. When the Schwinn 420 got many complaints about the visibility of its LCD, Nautilus added a blue backlight. A fan is included on the center console, but reviewers find it weak. Assembly is similar to the 420 and sometimes includes missing or broken parts, but overall it's a practical task for the average consumer.
Risky business. Owners don't praise the E514's durability the way they do with the Schwinn 420. In 35 consumer reviews found on Amazon.com, 10 give the machine 3 stars out of 5 or below, with users citing the failure of numerous parts. One common complaint is that the motor stops working immediately or after just a few weeks of use.
Experts disagree on the Nautilus E514's build quality. TreadmillDoctor.com calls the elliptical ridiculous at any price, while Fred Waters at Fitness-Equipment-Source.com names it an improvement on his Best Buy Schwinn 420.
Slightly longer warranty, but still under par. The Nautilus E514's warranty is a slight improvement on the Schwinn 420's: 10 years on the frame, one year on mechanical and electrical parts, six months on wear parts and 90 days for labor. Most manufacturers offer a lifetime frame warranty and at least two years on parts. As with the Schwinn 420, user reviews show positive customer service response. While the warranty still applies, Nautilus response is efficient and friendly.
Review Credibility: Very Good The experts at TreadmillDoctor.com, who began as fitness equipment technicians, rigorously test the products they review. They rate each elliptical on adjustability, reliability, noise level, value, warranty, quality and ergonomics. Here the Nautilus E514 gets a score of just 2.73 out of 10; the Schwinn 431 receives a 2.61.
Review: Nautilus E514 Elliptical Review, Editors of TreadmillDoctor.com, 2011
Review Credibility: Very Good A former executive at Smooth Fitness, Waters tests elliptical trainers and speaks with fitness equipment salespeople and experts. Instead of giving the Nautilus E514 a complete review, he compares it to the very similar Schwinn 420, which he names a Best Buy.
Review: Nautilus E514 Elliptical Trainer Review, Fred Waters, 2012
Review Credibility: Good The Nautilus E514 scores 3.8 stars out of 5 from about 40 customers at Amazon.com. These reviews vary in length and product experience; only a few are thorough and cite their time with the product.
Review: Customer Reviews : Nautilus E514 Elliptical Trainer, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of November 2012
Review Credibility: Good The E514 gets an average score of 4.6 out of 5 stars at Walmart.com. The 35-plus consumer reviews are brief, but state their ownership period.
Review: Nautilus E514 Elliptical Trainer, Contributors to Walmart.com, As of November 2012