After my FR8+ died, I decided that I wanted to buy a roaster with a larger capacity, and the IRoast certainly beats the FR in this department with roughtly 2.5x the batch size. What I didn't really think about is that there are some disadvantages to larger batches:
1) The stakes are higher if you screw up
2) You really need at least 2 lbs to figure out the roast
3) There are more mystery mix roasts with odd leftover beans.
For those of you with a FR+ keep this in mind. In my opinion, though, being able to roast every 2-3 days instead of once or twice a day is definitely worth the tradeoff.
The IRoast came packaged with pretty sparse directions. They tell you what to do, but I think they could be done better. Once I read the manual and washed everything, I was eager to play. The roasting chamber locks on to the base by putting it on and twisting so that interlocking tabs push against each other, and the chaff collector attaches to the roasting chamber in a similar fashion. I can't say I am too impressed with this system, because everything feels off. The base/roasting chamber offers too much resistance, and feels like it may break in the future if I have to twist so hard. Up top, the opposite occurs. Everything feels mushy, and i'm not convinced that the chaff collector is on very tight at all. In fact, I have heard of people complaining that their collector rattled off during the roast. Once everything is in place, I spent a minute or so entering in a roast profile I found on Sweet Marias website, then pushed the roast button.
WWHHHHHIIIIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!! The roaster roared into action. I'm not kidding, this thing is louder than my vacuum cleaner. The beans were happily hopping up and down as the fan screamed along, which is a good thing. Phase 1 completed, and the fan switched speeds. Suddenly, the beans weren't circulating so well. Not so good. Phase 2 completed, and the fan seemed to get even slower. Hmmmmm.... I manually stopped the roast in the middle of phase 3, and the IRoast switched into the cooling cycle. The beans came out unevenly roasted (ranging from city to vienna), but the coffee was tasted good anyway.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been able to adjust the weight off my batches and my roast profile to get fairly even roasts. It's really not that complicated, and I find playing with the roast profile quite enjoyable. My only real gripe is that I don't think bean circulation is all that great after you get out of the first stage of the roast, and if I could somehow have the fan on high and still hit 450 degrees I wouldn't see the ever so slighly varying shades of brown among my beans. Then again, maybe I just haven't found the magic weight/roast profile yet. Some more experimentation is in order :).
In conclusion, my first two weeks have been very positive. The machine performs as advertised, and I am very happy with my roasts. I believe the beans I brew with today are superior to what I was able to produce with my FR8+.