When TreadmillDoctor calls this the best treadmill Smooth has ever made, we listen. Maybe it's the huge 4.0 HP continuous duty motor and the great warranty (lifetime on parts, motor and frame, 2 years on labor). The deck is also big -- 21 inches wide and 64 inches long. Smooth includes a wide range of 28 pre-set programs, including a fitness test and a heart-rate controlled program. While it has built-in grip pulse monitors, you have to add your own chest strap heart rate monitor if you want that level of accuracy. They include a good sound system with a port for your iPod or other device. If you want to have a built-in TV, they have a 9.65 TV version (Buy Direct) for only $130 more.
The Lifefitness T3 has gotten good reviews from several sites, including Consumer Guide. It has over a dozen different workouts, including five that are heart rate controlled with the included Polar heart rate monitor. It has a 3.0 HP motor. Two users can have their own individual profiles on the machine.
The 3.5 HP continuous duty motor is a big motor for this price range. It is rated for users up to 400 pounds. The Sole F85 has both grip EKG and chest heart readouts. It has 6 Standard, 2 User Defined and 2 Heart Rate programs. You can plug in your iPod or other device, and keep cool with its cooling fans. TreadmillDoctor.com gives it a runner-up in its price category overall for 2011, plus calls it "the best fold-up on the planet."
The PaceMaster Platinum Pro VR won our Readers' Choice Award for mid-range treadmills in 2011. It touts bringing an outdoor experience to an indoor treadmill, with virtual reality workouts including the Appalachian Trail and Tahoe Rim. It features an orthopedic shock-absorbing belt. The motor is 3.0 hp and it can handle users up to 350 pounds.
Just over the border into the mid-price category, this treadmill is a very stable folding treadmill. It has a 3.0 HP motor rated for users up to 400 pounds, with a lifetime warranty on the motor and frame. It comes with a wireless chest strap heart rate monitor and a pulse grip sensor. It comes with eight pre-set programs, including heart rate control. Up to three users can add two custom workouts apiece.