I waited a long time and thoroughly researched electronic die cutting machines before finally choosing the full size Anna Griffin Empress machine. My only experience in die cutting machines is the Spellbinders Grand Calibur and the Spellbinders Platinum manuel die cutting machines. I really loved my raspberry Grand Calibur and had it for several years before the handle broke off. I then bought the Platinum and I was very disappointed. The first few times I used it, the acrylic cutting plates warped almost into a "C" shape and the dies etched so bad into the plates I could hardly see the die anymore. Fortunately, I am able to use my Grand Calibur plates in my Platinum without any issue and have been doing so since 2018.
The main issue in all the die cutting machines, whether it is an electric or a manel, is the consistent complaint that the acrylic plates warp. The final thing that made my decision to buy the Empress was when I was watching Anna Griffin showcase the Empress machine and she stated that the Empress cutting plates and the magnetic mat are thick. I have said to myself several times over the years, if manufacturers would just make the plates thicker like the Grand Calibur plates, they wouldn't warp.
When die cutting with the Empress, you place the paper on top of the magnetic mat, then the die cut with the cutting edge down and then cover with the cutting plate. The die cuts into the mat and not the plate. That makes the plates last longer and they don't get any of the die etching into it. The mat is consumable, which means over time, it will need to be replaced. But it's a lot less cheaper to replace 1 mat versus 2 cutting plates. In the future, I will never, ever buy any machine again that uses a platform and the die cuts into the acrylic plate. Over time, it's a huge waste of money.
My experience in using my Empress, is that the mat and the top cutting plate do bend a little. However, just make sure to rotate the sandwich on every pass and it solves that issue. Another reason I chose the Express is that it cuts and embosses within the same pass. No changing plates from cutting to embossing. It even embosses my Spellbinders dies in one pass. I always use the metal shim with each cut/emboss no matter what die I'm using. I have found with some of the very intricate non Anna Griffin dies, it takes 2 or 3 passes or the use of an additional card stock shim to cut those. Not cranking a handle for thoses passes makes it so worth it though.
I absolutely love my Empress and I am so glad I bought it. I waited until HSN had it on sale for $199 and then also used a 20% coupon from RetailMeNot. I paid $189 plus free shipping. So, it pays to shop around.