I purchased a Proform elliptical about a week ago, for $378 through a Groupon deal ($399 reduced cost from $999, with an additional $72 off from my stockpiled Groupon credits, plus extra for tax and shipping). It should arrive in another week or two. It was a model made specifically for Groupon's deal, I believe, so I did a great deal of research on the machine's specs before purchasing it.
(photo from the Groupon website)
Although it was a special model, it was equivalent to other high-quality Proform models and non-Proform ellipticals. I even researched the brands used at my gym to note any differences.
The stride is 18 inches, about 2-3 inches shorter than the machines I have used at the gym, but on par with other home machines. I weighed this carefully, but eventually decided that I could easily adjust to a slightly shorter stride for the convenience of having my own affordable elliptical machine in my apartment. It comes with built-in 12 workouts, 12 resistance levels, speakers and an i-pod music port, a cooling fan, and many other "extras" that I am glad to have. Although it weights 152 pounds, the unit tips forward onto two front wheels for easy moving (see the second picture).
Once I receive it, I will review the entire process of setting it up, just in case you were thinking of buying an elliptical as well. I know the thought of putting something like this together is daunting.
Having introduced my elliptical... I don't want to suggest that you can't work out effectively at home without large and expensive cardio machines. You absolutely don't. However, I know myself. I know I love ellipticals, and owning one is a terrific investment because I will use it all the time (I already do, at the gym). Keep in mind that plenty of people stay in shape at home without using a machine at all. I don't rely on machines exclusively -- I also use free online workouts, DVDs, and my own routines with free weights. Even if you cannot afford to buy DVDs or weights, there are plenty of free workouts online to help you get started.