Compromises? You bet, but it is still a good buy for the price point.
Positive Product Points
It is a very good grinder for the price. I have tried blade type grinders for less money and have had inconsistent results time and time again. This unit is fairly consistent and is perfect for hand brewed/drip coffee. The price point is pretty fair considering what the unit can do.
Negative Product Points
You've all read it many times over - yes, the unit sounds like a wood chipper and there is nothing subtle about it. (but really, it's not ear damaging loud or anything close to it. So what's the big deal about making some noise for less than a minute for the purposes of enjoying a good cup of coffee? Heck, my vacuum cleaner only wishes it could be that quiet and I use that for much longer periods of time.) Ok now for the real gripes. When popping out the coffee container, I always end up spilling coffee because of the way the chute is designed. The issue is that the chute is on the side instead of the top and depending on the type of coffee you grind, there is no way to avoid having coffee accumulate and clump up at the mouth of the chute. So as soon I pull out the container, coffee grinds ends up spilling on the counter top. To counter this, I tend to slap it on the back side of the machine with the chute facing down so any coffee that clumped up will fall into the container. Also, once again because of the side facing chute design, coffee tends to clump up at the top of the coffee container as well. This is because the coffee is being sprayed against the far side of the container and tends to build up and clump up at the top. (type of bean is a big factor) This isn't a big deal as you just have to slap the lid of the container and the coffee clumps will drop to the bottom. Not a big issue but it does get a little tiring having to worry about coffee spilling all over the counter every single morning. This isn't the easiest unit to clean. The safety features are annoying and pointless but I got over that quickly.
Although I summed it up in the Positive/Negavite points, despite my long winded negative attributes, the product is a worthy buy. As far as my limited experience is concerned, there isn't anything that works as well and addresses my concerns for this price point. I have never tried to grind extra fine because I don't drink espresso so can't speak to it but it does grind consistently well in the medium fine to fine range. The auto quantity selector is not too bad but my unit tends to grind more than the quantity that I specificy. 3 cups worth is about 3.5~3.75 cups worth. I have read some of the issues that other owners have experienced but I have not experienced any mechanical trouble with it over the course of a year. Ultimately, the negatives don't outweigh the positive experience of the cup of coffee that I get out of it. Is there a better grinder out there? I am sure there is but since I wasn't prepared to pay out in the 3 figure range, I like what I got for 50 bucks.
Nothing to it. I saw it on the shelf and paid for it at the register.