Actually, I’m probably the wrong person to voice an opinion on “new” $500 models, b/c I consider older, sub-$1000 models, “affordable”, which usually means snagging them off Ebay below retail, used, and in need of a little repair. My “used” machines sold for 50%, or less, off retail, and were usually repaired in 1 day. The Wahao i3 is my 1st “new” printer. At a pre-order of $375, how could I say no?, I’m a printer junkie:)
Customer service, hmmm, yeah good point, but I never use it, lol. The user forums and YouTube are a goldmine of information on specific printers, with specific problems. Sure, it takes longer, but you’ll learn a lot more than just addressing a single issue.
Also, I think the term “beginner”, might describe 2 different categories of customers, (1)those with NO technical skills, and (2)those with basic technical skills, that are willing to except the challenge of learning every aspect and variable involved with 3d printing. Despite manufactures and media’s claims and advertising, 3d printing is hard. Understanding the art of “balancing the energies” put in to speed, temperature and layer height , for different sizes and shapes, is a critical learning-curve for any beginner to get the best most out of the printer they can afford. Technical and mechanical issues are problems that no beginner should have to deal with, but at lower prices, it is just inevitable.
How many printer brands are there? https://sites.google.com/site/3dprinterlist/home
Too Many ! But it is pretty cool.