If you've promised yourself to lose weight this year exercising with an elliptical machine is good way to do it.

The advantages for people training with the machine are plentiful, according to trainer Declan Foley.

"It's weight bearing but non-impact, so it saves their joints, their knees feel good, their hips feel good, it's easier on the back, and it also provides an upper-body workout as well as a lower-body workout."

Consumer Reports just tested more than a dozen elliptical machines designed for home use, ranging in price from $600 to $3,700. They use a device that measures how hard you have to pedal at various resistance levels. Some machines require a lot more force than others.

There are other differences in mind to consider as well.

"The more expensive machines usually come with a sturdier framework and some additional features, although we did find some bargains," Peter Anzalone said.

Important features are a clear display and easy-to-use controls, as well as a heart-rate monitor. Testers say chest-strap monitors are best. The strap sends information to the machine wirelessly.

But realize ellipticals can take up a lot of space. The Stamina Avari needs more than eight feet.

If you're looking to splurge on a top-of-the-line machine, a top-rated Diamondback costs $3,300.

For a lot less, the NordicTrack Autostrider 990 costs $2,000. It's not compatible with a chest-strap heart-rate monitor, but it has other nice features like an incline you can adjust electronically.

"Which ever machine you buy, you want to feel comfortable on it," Anzalone said.

"You want to make sure your knees don't bump into the moving handgrips or the framework. And you want to make sure that you're not forced into a forward- or rearward-leaning position."

Two best buys are the Sole E35 and LifeCore LC985 at around $1,500.

When you buy an elliptical machine, you're often urged to buy an extended warranty. But Consumer Reports says research has found the machines are not likely to break during the period covered by the extended warranty -- so save your money.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Chris Olsen