For a number of crazy, crazy reasons (involving being upset after a dog attack of my best rooster leading to questionable purchase decisions), I have both the R-Com 20 Max and the Brinsea Octagon Advance with the humidity pump thingie. I have had 16 of my own eggs (Cream Legbar) in the R-Com 20. 15/16 developing nicely, 1 wasn't fertile. I'll be setting 16 shipped eggs (with messed up air cells) in the Brinsea tomorrow.
Certainly it's still early, but the R-Com is a BREEZE, and actually cheaper than Brinsea (given the additional amount to pay for the humidity thing). And it has a REALLY big clear window, which I really like. If not in use, I would likely move any eggs incubated in the Brinsea int the R-Com to hatch, so I can observe more easily. Down side - eggs are incubated on their sides, so you can't really incubate upright unless you put into a carton (as you may need to in messed up shipped eggs) unless you don't turn or turn by hand.
If it's just local eggs, I'd get the R-Com. It's more money than your budget (but cheaper than Brinsea), but about as effortless as is possible. If shipped are a possibility, the Brinsea Octagon can incubate upright (and still tilt if and when you want to) - though you can rig something upright in the R-Com and turn the turner off. Humidity and temp rock solid with both.
If you're ok with DIY (I'm not good at that AT ALL), you can make your own very successfully - Sally Sunshine has instructions on how to make one from a cooler, and how to ensure calibration. VERY successful for LOTS of folk (who hatch hundreds of chicks...) and cheaper, more in the range you noted. But I have to say, the R-Com or Brinsea really are "set it and forget it". With my job, this is required.
Honestly? I really like the R-Com better so far. But I suppose time will tell...
Photos (you can see what I mean by the visibility issue):
Brinsea Octagon Advance (humidity on the right) - no eggs in it yet (tomorrow!):
R-Com (SOOOOO easy!!!) - note if you order the Max, this egg tray needs to be ordered separately. GET THIS TRAY for good turning (universal tray/rails not as good):
Hope that helps!
- Ant Farm
Edited by Fire Ant Farm - 1/28/16 at 7:28pm