I went to 3 stores and tried out 3 brands of machines yesterday - a Husguarvna, Bernina and Pfaff. I've owned Singers in the past and frankly don't like any of the ones built after about 1965 (my 1930's era treadle and 1952 Featherlight are wonderful). Of the 3 I looked at, the Husguarvna and Bernina had the best features, but the Bernina was by far the most expensive. And of course the Pfaff was the least expensive, and what bothered me about that machine was more that the sales person didn't know a lot about the machine so he couldn't demonstrate all that it might be able to do.
The Bernina that I "test drove" was the 730, and only because it was in the same price range of the other brands I looked at. The Bernina that was comparable to the other 2 (the one your mom wants) was actually thousands of dollars more expensive. But you are right - the largest hoop that came with it was the size of the smaller ones with the other machines. But it had Microsoft based software, so you can easily download things like all the Microsoft fonts.
I think I'll go back to see the Husguarvna today. That was the first machine I looked at and gained more knowledge about them by the time I went to the 3rd store. It did have the most patterns built in (lots of cat patterns
), the best warrantee, and the store had the most knowledgeable people. And I think I can use the attachments from my other 2 Husquarvna's with this machine.
So my conclusion thus far:
Bernina - the most versatile machine but also the most expensive by far and the store was focused on selling machines, not teaching you ways to use it.
Pfaff - least expensive and the store offers unlimited training on it, but I have a nagging feeling about it.
Husguarvna - best warrantee, compatible with machines I already own, most patterns, and a great store to support me for both using the machine and ideas for projects. They told me they would strike a deal on the price, but wasn't ready for that conversation with me yesterday. It may come in as low as the Pfaff.
I'm leaning towards the Husquarvna right now.