Bodum Stand Mixer
So Costco dropped their price on this mixer to $150 the other day, and I figured why not try it out?
(here is link to Amazon's page of it: http://www.amazon.com/BODUM-11381-01US-Bistro-Electric-4-7-Liter/dp/B008FR5BAO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395796258&sr=8-1&keywords=bodum+stand+mixer)
I HAD a KitchenAid Artisan, but it was stolen (who the hell steals a stand mixer?) I did love my Artisan, but thought I'd try this since the Amazon reviews were pretty good.
The biggest complaints I noticed about it were regarding the exterior's construction - people thought it felt "cheap" in some cases, and next to the KitchenAid, I can see why. If you've never had a KitchenAid, you'd likely find it to be quite nice, however. I didn't read anything about any mixers actually breaking, so it appears to be an aesthetic issue.
Next, I tested two things on it - first, I made some butter with the whisk attachment. The whisk didn't scrape the sides of the bowl, however it got close enough. The mixing head lifts quite easy, and since the splash guard is attached to the head, it doesn't get in the way if you need to scrape the sides (Artisan's attached to bowl). So if you want a mixer where you don't have to scrape bowl at all, then I'd say don't get this (then again, I had to scrape Artisan at times). But it does a fairly decent job, and if you have no problem running a spatula along the bowl, then it's not a big deal. The speeds go from 1-7 (max). I decided to whip the cream on "4" setting. Now instructions say don't run mixer for longer than 5 minutes (I called Bodum, and they said that only applies if you're doing some HEAVY mixing at max speed. So you can in theory run for a long, long time as long as you're not mixing concrete). But to be prudent, I chose mid-setting & the butter took 17 minutes to make.
Second, I did some baguette dough w/ dough hook. Standard recipe - 2 cups water, 3 cups KA bread flour, 1 tsp. diastatic malt, 1 tsp. salt. Made with poolish (1/8 tsp yeast) & heaping 1/2 tsp. yeast in final dough. Anyways, running on the "3" speed, it took right at 10 minutes for the dough to take shape. At that point it was what you'd consider "ideal."
So after a trial run, I like it. Artisan might be a little better, but @ $150 with Costco's warranty (forever), this one more than meets my needs (the needs of a "once in a while" baker). I owe someone banana bread, so when I make that I'll update with paddle review (apparently that was an issue, too, how paddle didn't get sides of bowl, resulting in need to scrape).