Ice cream makers [Moved from Home Cooking]
I have one and like it. It will take up to 2 quarts, unlike most ice cream makers which limit you to 1 quart. The motor has plenty of power so I never worry about not being able to churn through the thickening mixture. OTOH it's fairly expensive compared to the smaller units. The manual recommends 15 hours of pre-freezing before you can use it, and it generally does take that long. If you're going a large batch you have to chill the mixture for about 8 hours, so this is not something you make on impulse.
I also have a Deni with 2 bowls so I can do multiple flavors in small quantities. It was fairly inexpensive so I thought it useful when I'm in the mood to make a lot of ice cream. Pre-freezing is faster (smaller bowl) so is handy when you're in a hurry.
The Lello machine has an excellent pedigree as they were formerly made under the Simac brand. Even though it seems a little expensive, it will give you years of pleasure.
BTW, it is more expensive because it has it's own compressor and doesn't rely on a bowl that has to be pre-frozen.
I recommend it over others because of it's quiet operation, ease of cleaning/sanitizing and the soft,creamy ice creams with great mouth-feel that it produces.
Have you seen the Ice Cream Ball ice cream makers? You can get them at REI or Amazon or LL Bean--places like that. Very fun for parties and picnics and camping... There's a canister that sits inside the ball that you fill with the ice cream ingredients, then seal off with the lid. Then, insert the canister and fill the rest of the ball with salt and ice. Toss the ball around for a bit and, presto!, you've got ice cream. Very fun. They run about $30.00 for the pint size. You can also get a double for, I think, $35-$40.
Not practical for every day use, but certainly fun for those outdoor occasions.
It depends how much you want to spend and how much space you have.
Cuisinart and Deni have $50 machines that you can find anywhere (and get for less if you're patient and scour Amazon and Slickdeals.net for sales--mine was $25). They're well liked on this board, and I've had my Cuisinart for a few years without problems.
If you have counter space and want to spend more money, the machines that don't require any pre-freezing and/or can freeze more than 2 qts or multiple batches at a time seem pretty nifty, but I haven't tried any.