I got a Taxc Sirius softgel last winter. It's alright though I don't use it as much as I thought I would, even out of season. Noise is not too bad and I live in an apartment as well - wouldn't use it after 9pm or anything like that though. The missus can watch telly in the room next door without any problems.
Got it in the UK as things are mostly cheaper, even with postage.
Yes, I have the TACX Fortius and use the catalyst program (perfect for interval training, power testing etc) and real life videos which are amazing. I've got stages in the French Alps and Pyrenees, and more coming. I can happily sit on it and train for hours. It's THE SHIT however pricey....See below, Alp d'huez looming...
With scenery like this I'm happy to ride indoors, especially in this heat!
p.s. James, when are you coming over to try it out mate?
Baribari, notice the cadence? I had to stop pedalling to take the pics...once you start pedalling she'll get up to some good speeds.
Before I used a regular tyre and it was noisy as hell, but now I use a TACX training tyre and it cuts the noise by 2/3rds. Those things really work and are surprisingly quiet.
On slopes up to 10% it feels very realistic but anything over that and it gets a bit jerky, but in real life it kind of feels like that anyway I guess, especially on Mikuni In general climbing feels amazingly realistic.
It was a pain in the arse to set up on Windows Vista and many people have complained about running it on this platform. Windows 7 seems to be a better option. Tacx were really quick with their replies though and once I got through it all it's been excellent.
The one complaint is when using max power. It seems to just blow out when hitting 600 plus watts. Anything up to 550watts seems to run seamlessly. I've read it may have something to do with running it on 110V, but who really knows? I'm not a sprinter and rarely need to get over 400watts anyway, but when I was doing some critical power testing for 20 seconds and 1 minute it just shutdown I got the 240V version and use a transformer, so maybe the 110V version doesn't have these problems?
I use it with the Catalyst program mostly, where you can creat your own workouts or choose from the TACX created ones. They have all sorts of options, heart rate/slope/time/distance/power etc...really great stuff. And you get great instant feedback with graphs etc, and at the end you can print them out or analyze the rides with power/speed/HR/cadence etc data ever 30 seconds.
Another great feature is you can ride a course imported from A GPS. I mapped out the Tour de Okinawa on Google Earth and can ride it before the race. That's freaking amazing!
Sure it was a bit pricey, but this is onw sweet training device, and will hopefully help in my quest to get faster.