I've had my Janome 7700 Horizon since May and decided to update my review of the machine. Like every Janome I've ever owned, it has it has some wonderful features and some annoying flaws.
No machine is perfect and everyone's machine experience is different. If you are interested in the Horizon check out the machine for yourself. Have fun and bring fabric you use and check out all the features for personal tastes or dislikes. If you hate the machine, that's okay. Keep searching for the machine that calls out to you. You'll know it right away.
Always remember that you can haggle for machines. If your dealer won't budge ask for some goodies like extra feet, threads or other notions. I've read that people have gotten the 7700 table added in or some other nice items. I traded in my 6600 for it and got a decent price for it.
Overall Physical Appearance:
Visually the machine is gorgeous and it's easy to lust after it. It's sleek and sexy with a beautiful red color. It's doesn't have the ugly colors of the 6500 and 6600 and they've simplified the look and feel. It calls to you from across the room and you can't resist it's beauty. Even the plastic body feels luxurious.
The machine is HUGE. It's not heavy but it is awkward to carry around.
The only thing that sticks out like a sore thumb is the silver colored dial. I don't know why they didn't put a number system on the touch screen or just a number pad where the dial is. It does flow smoothly and gets you to your stitches eventually. It's just annoying. Bernina tried this out with their 1630 machine roller ball years ago and it wasn't a hit either.
The touch screen is nice and very reponsive. Everything is right there for easy use. Janome has always had user friendly machines and this is no exception.
The lighting is wonderful. I figured 5 lights, so what. For 50 bucks I can buy one of those LED lights but I'm even too cheap to buy one of those. They do need another light just behind the one next to the start/stop button to light up the walking foot area.
The lights do leave a yellowish cast to your fabric. At first I thought I'd accidentally stained my quilt and panicked.
The Horizon's claim to fame is the atomatic single plate. When you press the APC (Automatic Plate Converter) button the machine slides the single hole plate into place. This works beautifully if your 1/4 inch seam allowance is directly at 3.5 and for free motion quilting. If it isn't, it's a waste of a really great idea.
There is great storage on top for feet and the thread goes through perfectly without hanging up on anything. The bottom tray slides out with 2 storage cases attached. It's all one piece so you don't have to worry about losing the cases. It fits in nice and snug into the machine with no spaces/overlap.
The one flaw is that there isn't a handle to get the inner tray out and it drives me crazy. I end up dumping the tray spilling feet and bobbins everywhere when I try to get feet or lift it out.
When you get your machine, several parts are under the tray of the first box. I went mad looking for those feet and parts.
Speaking of feet, Janome has made a whole new FMQ foot part. It is fully adjustable, no annoying bouncing and you have 3 feet to attach to it. You get a small circular hole, an open toe foot, and a big plastic disc with guides on it. I did some FMQ and it does it beautifully. The options to customize the settings via that foot makes it even that much better. The new FMQ rock.
If the circular disc had diagonal lines, it would be perfect.
The acrylic table is okay. The positive thing is that it attaches to the machine instead of sliding around. I hate acrylic tables. My quilts get hung up on the corners and on the edges. Only thing they are good for are light tables. I haven't even bothered to put the one that comes with the machine together.
Same foot pedal as the 6600. It works but Janome really needs to make it bigger. At least the Horizon stops when I lift my foot off the pedal instead of taking an extra few stitches.
They've divided up the stitches into more modes. Heirloom, Utility, Quilting, and some others. They are accessed through the dial and then subdivided into individual stitches. The touch screen allows you to adjust further into length, width, and other subdivisions. I just wish the stitch that is shown moves as you change the settings. It can't be that hard to see your adjustments via the screen.
My stitches were OFF big time and had to use the +/- silver disc on the front to have them close or align properly. Check that your stitches work beforehand. My dealer checked her demo after I asked and hers were off as well. Also make sure your buttonhole stitches work. Several people have reported issues with those stitches.
Stitch quality is okay. Viking and Pfaff make far superior dec stitches. For as many stitches that you get, they should be a lot prettier. Janome adds way too many "between" stitches making holes in your fabric and it distorts the stitch. If you are going to be using the dec stitches please check to see if they meet your standards.
A lot of the stitches have R, L, M labeled so you'll know where the needle is centered.
It does ball up on me when starting as the top thread gets tangled up underneath. I'm the person that hates bringing up my threads or having to use a starter piece of fabric to start sewing. My Viking doesn't have this problem and I haven't figured out why this machine does.
Should you buy it? Here's where I'm brutal.
3000 bucks is a lot of money in this economy. I'm not familiar enough with pricing to know how the touch screens compare with each other. I'm pathetically cheap..I'd pay 2500 for it.
For my 3000 dollars I'd like a bobbin low (that's accurate unlike my Janome 350e) or bobbin stop sensor.
Stitch changes while editing on screen and a number pad.
The ability to update the machine if there are computer flaws or to have new dec stitches downloaded via a USB port or computer cable.
The arm needs deeper grooves for marking. You can't see the horizontal line for alignment purposes.
My biggest issue after having it since May is that Janome hasn't truly mastered the seam allowance issues. You'd think with a 3rd generation machine, that problem would be fixed. It still veers to the left, gets hung up on bulky seams, and hates making a good 1/4 inch seam allowance. With it being a 7mm feed dog width, the 1/4 inch foot only covers one feed dog when using the APC plate. Even if you don't use the plate, the foot stays at 3.5 and only the needle moves.
I have spent months trying to figure out why this happens. I put their 1/4 foot on my Viking and it works perfectly. The only thing I can figure out is that while the needle is centered, the part where you snap the foot in isn't. Everything else about this machine works but the feeding system for piecing.
I haven't bonded with this machine. It will never be my favorite machine and while Janome has made this machine visibly beautiful, the main stitching flaw still exists. It's not a user error issue either as I'm not new to sewing or to machines.
Edited Feb 19, 2011:
I just tried the new O2 foot for the Horizon today to give it another chance as I may have a possible buyer. I went over seams with ease on blocks that are complex. I was shocked. I don't have a block as complex as a Lemoyne star where all the points meet up, but I was very impressed with the new foot.
Janome should have sent out a new foot if you have your machine registered.
I put the regular foot back on and immediately had problems with it mashing fabric and going over seams. Janome may have solved the problem with their new foot. If you are having problems, get the foot and see if it works for you.
Edited Mar 13, 2011
Meh. I tried. I really did but I traded it in for a Viking Designer Ruby. I give up on Janome. Great machines, but I don't like them. Hopefully she goes to a home that truly appreciates her. She deserves better than me.