Be prepared for this shopping experience. Planning for it will help to make it a less-stressful time; one where you get what you want, not what the salesperson wanted you to purchase. If your spouse/partner will be using the machine as well, take him/her along.
Have a list. Print out or write down the models from the buying section. Take it with you.
Dress for the occasion. You will want to wear comfortable clothes and appropriate shoes so you can be ready to test the equipment out.
Go for a test ride. Get on the equipment and give it a try. You should have an idea how it should feel from your visit to the gym. You will want to test the machine for more than just a few minutes and be sure to test out all it does. Lower-quality machines will sometimes show their faults after some time and through different exercises.
The machine should feel solid. Loose-feeling machines may fail more often than those with a solid feel. You want a quality machine that will last for you as you set off toward your fitness goals.
The machine should be comfortable to you. Everyone is different so a particular machine may not feel good to you. If it isn't comfortable, you won't likely use it at home — find something else.
Note the noisiness of the machine. When you get it home, will your use of it disturb the sleeping baby, be too loud to hear the television, or disturb your downstairs neighbors? If yes, you probably won't use is as much as you'd like. Keep looking.
Purchase from a retailer who offers a money-back guarantee. This way you can try and see.