Price paid: $ 150
Purchased from: Musician's Friend
Sound — 9
I'm running an Ibanez RG350EX through the POD and it sounds pretty fair with all the models and presets. The presets in particular impressed me, especially the "Cliffs of Dover" and "Barracuda" ones. I play mostly prog metal these days (some might call it djent I guess) and I'm still trying to get a good tone for that, though it's getting there. It's a shame that this doesn't come with the Metal Shop model pack because I've heard some good things about the Big Bottom model in relation to my kind of playing, but it still works. One thing: these models are pretty true to the ones they're based on, so if you Pick a model that would be noisy in real life, it's gonna be noisy in POD Farm. The noise gate is your friend sometimes. The popular Insane model is here of course, though I find it works best in conjunction with another amp head, particularly the Chemical X.
Overall Impression — 10
Like I mentioned above, I play prog metal, and though I'm still trying to tweak things to my liking, I think once I get what I'm looking for I'll be thoroughly impressed. I've been playing for a little over three years and have tried a few modeling amps, and none of them really compared to the versatility of the POD. One of the only drawbacks is that if you want to gig with it, you'll have to figure out a way to protect it so it doesn't get destroyed. Also, I'm still lamenting the lack of Metal Shop, but I'll get over it once I have the $25 to spare for it (which incidentally seems like a damn good deal to me). If my POD was lost, I'd search tirelessly for it for the remainder of my days until I found it. If it was stolen, god have mercy on whoever stole it because I will wreck their whole damn week. I love pretty much everything about it and hate nothing about it. My favorite feature is still the "Cliffs of Dover" preset. It gives me warm, fuzzy feelings inside. I actually tried a Boss modeling board thing (I can't remember what it's called) before I got this, and the POD just blows it away in my opinion. So yeah, I'm pretty happy with this thing.
Reliability & Durability — 8
The hardware seems like it'll hold up as long as you don't subject it to too much abuse (it's made of plastic). I don't gig, but I don't believe I'd let this see any action outside of home. It would just be too risky. Though I guess if you're really hellbent on gigging with it, you could fashion some kind of protective enclosure for it.
Ease of Use — 9
The initial setup was relatively painless. There were a few hiccups but closing and reopening a couple things sorted everything out. POD Farm 2.51 actually runs surprisingly smoothly on my low-end laptop. Playing around with the presets in POD Farm was pretty easy and tweaking things is very simple. However, getting EXACTLY the tone you want is gonna take a while, but that's to be expected really.