The Nesco Food Dehydrator
The American Harvest Snackmaster and Gardenmaster
Owned by the Metal Ware Corporation, Nesco makes the best mid-range dehydrator. The Nesco food dehydrator has been among the leaders in sales and customer satisfaction for a long time. If you're looking to upgrade from the Ronco, but don't want an Excalibur, go with a Nesco American Harvest.
Solid History and Reputation
The company got its start in the 1930s when a couple of engineers started playing with electricity. The created a portable, electric oven that the utility company bundled with their service. Throughout their long tradition, despite being divided and sold, the Nesco/American Harvest brand has meant innovation and durability.
Options for All Budgets
The top of the line model is the FD-1010 Gardenmaster Dehydrator (review here). It's their strongest (1000 watts) and largest (expands to 30 trays). Plus, these units have a built-in fan, so the warm air travels up the and around each tray for fast, even drying. This model retails for about $150.
The adjustable thermostat goes from 95-155 degrees, so you have accurate control of the drying environment. You can dry anything, from beef jerkey to banana chips to fruit roll-ups.
Its cousin is the FD-1020 Gardenmaster (review here). This is a slightly smaller version that expands to 20 trays. They make up for the smaller size by including a digital timer. It costs the same, and if you don't need the extreme expandability, I'd recommend this one. I like timers because that means there's no babysitting the machine.
FD-61 Snackmaster Plus Jerky Kit
For those on a smaller budget, I like the FD-61 Snackmaster and Jerky Kit. You can tell by the name that it's going to have a smaller capacity. It's also got 500 watts of drying power, an adjustable thermostat, and top mounted fan. This model is about $70, slightly more than the Ronco, but worth the extra $20 because it comes with a jerky kit.
Sweet Spot - Quality and Value
The Nesco Food Dehydrator hits the sweet spot that combines good quality and a fair price. If you want to get your start in dehydrating, but don't want to commit to spending more than $150, the Nesco Gardenmaster is a fine choice for your kitchen.
More details on Nesco units on the Nesco Dehydrator Reviews page.