We started a small retaining wall project today and I wanted to do the excavation with a mini-x to see how they ran, and how effective they are. I rented a NH EC35 - it was about 7,000 pounds or so. What a humbling experience!! I was so bad at running the thing that it would've almost been faster to dig by hand. Now in my defense it was on a hill, in a cramped space, but jeez! After awhile I just parked the thing and used the forks on my skid loader to loosen up the soil then dig it by hand. What's the learning curve on something like that? Before I'd ever consider buying one I'd need to know that it wouldn't take me a year to figure out how to run the darn thing!