I bought the SS Machine with my own money, so I am going to give you my honest opinion. I weigh 180 LBS and I have been kiting on water and snow for 5 years. I am not affiliated with any kite companies. I have experience with a lot of light wind kites as the wind where I live is usually light, especially on the snow.
The kite appears to be well built, it has thin, flexible battens placed strategically all over the kite. This necessitates a long, thin bag, this is not a problem for me as I drive a truck, but it may not fit in the trunk of a smaller car. The kite only has 3 inflatable spars with the one pump feature, it was a snap to inflate. The one line bar appeared to be complicated, but it was actually fairly simple to figure out.
The session today was light. I actually pumped up my Naish 30M V4 and I was ready to go when my friend showed up with the Machine. We had a fixed wind meter sitting on the beach. The wind was between 6 - 13 mph with an average of 10 mph. I was riding on a Jimmy Lewis 135 custom board. I was able to stay even to the shore with plenty of jumps in the gusts. I was surprised because in wind that light I always end up going downwind on other 20 meter kites (Gaastra Stealth, Naish Torch, Naish X2). I only came off a plane a couple times, which is really amazing consdiering how light the wind was today. Usually in conditions that light I would never bother using a 20M because I would be riding only 50% of the time. Today, I rode 995 of the time. The water was glassy with small ripples when gusts came through. The machine sits a little further back in the window when you have it sheeted in allowing more low-end grunt.
Bar pressure was lighter than the aforementioned kites. I found it similar to a Wingwing Rapture 18 or a FlySurfer PsychoII 21M.
The kite turns well and like most 20M kites I always knew exactly where it was in the air. The kite jumps much like my Gaastra Stealth, nice pop with good glide.
I dropped the kite to test the relaunchability. It was super easy, just pull in the 5th line and the kite flips onto its back.
I took the V4 30M out as a comparison. The V4 does offer more low end grunt, but it did not have much of an advantage over the 20M Machine. Makes me think that I could retire my 30M for a 25M machine.
Unfortunately, the wind stayed light, so I can't speak about the upper range yet, nor the functionability of the one line bar.
I rode the 17.5 on the snow. The wind was so light that it was not a lot of fun, but it did stay in the air when every other kite was on the ground. My friend bought a 17.5, but we didn't pull it out of the bag yesterday.
Tried the Machine back to back with my 14M Ozone Frenzy.
The Machine was easy to setup and launch. I only have 2 complaints:
1. I hooked up the 5th line to the TE and the line was too short. The wind was light, so it took me a little while to figure out why the kite would relaunch, but stall. This was easily rectified with some Q-Line that I had in my truck.
2. The flying lines are white. Not a great color choice for snow - white on white makes it more likely for other kiters or snowmobilers to run over the lines when the kite is on the ground.
The Machine performed flawlessly. The wind was 2 - 15 mph. Setup was quick due to the One Pump. Kiteloops were easy both while looping up the hill and while jumping. The Machine flew in the lightest of breeze and only slowly dropped from the sky on one occassion. When it did, the relaunch was fast and simple. Jumps were more floaty than my Frenzy. Overall, I believe the 20M Machine is more powerful than the 14M Frenzy.
I left with a smile on my face. The Machine is the first inflatable that I would consider for both snow and water. Other LEI's left me disappointed because they did not perform well when the wind was super light, which is often what I find at my favorite local spot.
Started out in 10 - 15 mph wind. Wind built to 18 - 20. One line system worked great. I pulled in 6" on the 5th line and cleated it off. Pulled in a few inches on the depower strap. Everything worked great until my harness broke after a big air. I pulled the QR on the chickenloop. The kite depowered and I waded into the shore. The only problem is that the oversized chickenloop fell off of my spreader bar on the way into shore. I called my dealer and he told me that SS makes a smaller version and he is getting me one. I also order the SS Surefire spread bar. I don't like the oversized clunky leash that comes stock with the one line. It is so long that it gets in the way.
Overall, I was impressed with the performance of the kite. SS claims that the kite handles like a mid-aspect kite on the low end and more like a high aspect kite on the high end. I found this to be true. Due to the one line setup you can tune the kite while riding to an amazing degree.
I tried the SS 20m on a couple of occasions and could not get it to work as well as the Contra 19.5 or the Rhino 20m.. This was with a side by side comparison with me and another similar weighted rider...... I have come to hear thought that the Machine's center line was not as long as it should have been on the kite I was riding....... perhaps this explains why I didn't have a good experience.