I bought it at a time when I really didn't know anything about it or machining for that matter. I did ask some people I trusted and anyone who had machining experience advised not to get a combo machine, rather to get a dedicated Mill and a dedicated lathe; problem of course was cost seconded only by space. At the time I was working out of a 2 car garage so in my mind the 3 in 1 machine was a better deal. Well, over the years and as I gained more knowledge I began to understand why they said what they did; the combo machines are very limited in what they can do specifically due to size. As it relates to the HF unit itself, it is pretty sloppy in terms of accuracy which for a long time really deterred me from using it; it wouldn't cut straight, would jump around etc. Well eventually I my neighbor who has an actual machine shop come over and look at it; he explained how to adjust it to remove some of the movement and after some discussed I determined that it could be useful for what I am doing (car and gun work).
I don't know your background so if what I write after this is something you are knowledgeable in I apologize, but I figured I would write it up in case anyone is interested.
The biggest issue with these machines (or really any for that matter) is tooling. The combination mill vise/lathe tool post is a pain to use and not very good at either function (better at holding the lathe tool post than as a mill vise). Therefore as I began to research my options I began to purchase tooling; got a quick change lathe bit tool post, new 3" mill vise, hold down kits, 123 blocks, etc. These all made HUGE differences in what I can do and to what quality I can do it. There is an endless list of tooling you can obtain, much of what you don't need (but will want...).
My best advise reference a mill and/or lathe is if you can afford it and intend to become a machinist (even a hobby machinist) get a dedicated Mill and a dedicated lathe. The reason is that they are so much more powerful and capable than a small machine. If however this isnt an option due to cost or power requirements (most Mills require 3 phase 220) then look at the small 3 in 1 machines. Look at Smithy to begin with, this is their forte and they make some really nice machines but cost around $2500 - $5000 depending on model. if this is out of your price range, then look at the HF units but know that you are going to have to do some work to make it usable.
On the HF unit, you will need to really clean it; I don't mean wipe it down I mean taking a lot of it apart and cleaning it thoroughly. I used some 50% gas/oil solution (like you would use for a chainsaw) and a red Scotchbrite pad and 000 steel wool. Then you need to adjust as much of the slop out of it that you can which can take some time. You need to mount it some place solid and spend some time leveling it up. After that, you need to look at obtaining some additional tooling for it which can be frustrating and confusing at times. You have to know what size machine you have as in the machinist world they use a lot of terms that are not real familiar. The HF unit I have is basically a 12-20 machine so when you are looking for tooling you need to know this. You also need to know what spindle size you have as well as tail stock size; mine is a Morse 3 taper on the spindle and a Morse 2 on the tail stock (aka MT3 and MT2 respectively).
Keeping in mind that I am not a machinist by trade or training, but I have been around it for a long time and have a basic understanding of it. Additionally I have quite a few very good friends who are machinists that I can easily ask questions of. That said, I have found the internet to be invaluable as there are a lot of people who use the small machines for a variety of things. As you may know or will see there are dedicated websites for the use of small machines and tooling is readily available especially on Amazon. Lastly, YouTube is your friend and will show you how to do about anything, I use it frequently.
The HF unit gets a pretty bad rap but to be honest, for a hobbyist who is making relatively minor (but essential) parts, it will deliver if you take the time to set it up and work within its limitations. My biggest problem is understanding the measurements and what the various increments on the machine yield on the part. I really need to spend some time adapting a DRD to it (digital readout) as the dials on the machine are not super accurate.
Sorry for the long post but I figured someone might be interested in the information. Long story short, I really like using the unit and have made a number of things with it recently. If you fall into one on sale or used one cheap, its worth getting, but know you are going to have to spend many times the initial cost to get it really productive due to tooling, but this is the same with any machine you would get unless you fall into someone closing a machine shop and willing to give it all to you.