This is an article in response to a frequently asked question, "Which is better, an electronic machine or a mechanical machine?"
This is actually an impossible question to answer. Both systems have their pros and cons.
With regards to positive features for electronics, it is impossible to produce a machine capable of embroidery without electronics and computer controls. Also, electronically controlled sewing machines may be capable of stitching in excess of 100 different stitches, patterns, and monograms loaded into a processor which controls a series of miniature motors connected to the needle bar, feed dog, presser foot, needle thread tension assembly, and thread cutter. Additional patterns may also be stitched if the machine is capable of reading information from a storage device such as a memory card, etc. With a simple push of a button, any one of these patterns may be instantly chosen. Very convenient.
With respect to negative features, firstly electronically controlled machines tend to be very expensive. You're paying for the convenience and technological sophistication. Electronic machines are also sensative to problems associated with sources of electicity. It is recommended that anybody using any electronic machine should not be plugging the machine directly into the wall outlet; instead a surge suppressing strip should be used. This helps to regulate the electricity, primarily protecting the electronics from voltage irregularities commonly known as voltage spikes. The costs of these devices have come down and the protection abilities have gone up in recent years, so it is advised to invest in a good one. Some machines, such as Viking machines are notoriously sensative to static electricity. A simple thing such as a static electric buildup and subsequent discharge can disrupt the functions or even damage the electronic components of the machines. It has been recommended that machines which are sensative to static charges be placed on a static discharge mat prior to use. This mat has a cable which needs to be attached to a ground source which will prevent static charges from building up. Also, electronic boards and circuits age (don't we all?). We may use the machine without fault one day and start to work the next day finding the machine non responsive in some areas. What happened? It's time was up. As an example in a non-sewing context, not too long ago I watched the evening news on my ten year old television before going to sleep. The next morning I turned on the same TV to watch the morning news. Blank screen. What happened? It's time was up. When the electronics fail, for whatever reason or cause, it is very likely that the repair will be costly. The machine was expensive to purchase, it will be expensive to repair.
This catagory of machines truly performs in an amazing manner. If you have an electronic machine or are planning to buy one, just be aware of the operating precations in regards to surge supressing strips and static discharge mats. Both of these items are often available at stores such as Walmart, Radio Shack, or office supply stores.
With regards to positive features for mechanicals, firstly we can say that mechanical machines are more affordable. The mechanicals are always on the lower tier of the price list. Also, mechanicals are not prone to electric variances or other glitches and therefor may be considered to be more dependable. Mechanicals derive their motions from cams, followers, push rods, and connecting rods. There is no "control center" such as a mother board, so even if a section of the machine becomes damaged or worn, the machine doesn't necessarily become entirely non-functional. Repairs and parts replacements are also less expensive compared to electronics.
With respect to negative features, mechanical sewing machines are limited in capabilities and capacity. Elaborate embroidery work cannot be done on a mechanical (non-electronically controlled) sewing machine. Since component movements are derived from cams, various motion patterns require various cams. There is a practical limit as to the capacity, or size, of the camstack built into the machine. The alternative is to have an interchangable cam system. This means that there are a set or series of individual cams. These need to be properly stored and may be prone to loss. Built-in cams in camstacks are sometimes made of metal. This is rather expensive to produce. Interchangable cams are made from plastic material. This is more cost effective, but over a long period of time, may be prone to damage or wear. Mechanical systems to produce intricate motions tend to be complex, having a great deal of moving parts. This requires proper maintenance and lubrication. The more moving parts in the machine means the more "exercise" it needs. In other words, don't let the machine sit for long periods of time without some use. Even if there is no sewing project, try to remember to take out the machine and run it and move the control knobs to different settings. Even of you do this for just two minutes and put it away, it will help to keep it running freely. Do this every five to six months.
Do I have a recommendation in regards to choosing mechanical versus an electronic? Yes.
(This is just my opinion given freely in response to having been asked this question.)
If you only intend to do a limited range of sewing operations, or sewing in which you plan to use only a limited range of stitch variations, you should compare machines carefully. If there is an electronic model and a mechanical model which have equivalent stitch choices, I would advise to purchase the mechanical. The reason for this is: if all other features of the two machines are equilvalent, it is statistically more likely you will have fewer problems over the life of the machine, as well as the lifespan of the mechanical machine is more likely to be longer. Also, if all other features of the two machines are equivalent, you will be paying additional money just for push-button convenience.
If you desire to perform embroidery work, the clear answer is to buy an electronic machine.
If you desire an extended range of stitch choices as well as advanced features such as built-in stitch advisors and automatic tension recalibrations with various stitch choices, again the clear answer is an electronic machine.
As you can see, there is no right or wrong. That's why there are so many brands and so many models. Consider your needs, usage, and budget and make a good choice that's appropriate for you.