I think the ShapeOko 3 is the best value available for a CNC. Let us know if you have any other questions, if you’ll let us know where you are, you may even be close enough for someone w/ a machine to give you a demo.
For the work volume, kit pricing and kit quality, I’m in total agreement with @WillAdams.
I would prefer a larger working area, but 16" X 16" would be sufficient for most uses.
There is a type of machining - tiling - that allows longer pieces than your machine to be worked (wider cannot be done because only the front and back of the machine are open) with little difficulty. Here is an example:
I use Mac OS, and even though CarveWright says it works with Mac, there are issues.
I use a Mac too! MeshCAM, Carbide Motion and Carbide Create run great!
Trim routers work well, and afford the most reasonable option, but this is a kit, and one may modify it as desired, and one may mount a real spindle, or any other tool:
I’m also in total agreement with @WillAdams. Routers are an excellent value.
There is a vendor - SuperPID - that allow one to do a minor modification of a router and turn it into an almost a spindle:
Spindles have advantages over routers - precision RPM control - even programmatic control - low noise, smaller runout, and longer life.
That said, they cost. If you’re on a tight budget, a router, for sure. Spend a bit more, use SuperPID to gain adjustable - and precise - RPMs.
Spend a bit more - bite the bullet - and go with a spindle.
I am apprehensive about assembly as well as learning the software.
That’s what we’re here for… to help.
Just take your time. Many people say to NOT take everything out first, to take them out as you need them. YMMV.
The assemble manual is WORLD CLASS. There are several excellent videos out there that make things easy. Here are a few examples:
I am especially interested in pocket cuts for inlay, speedier cutting, and smoother edges.
Piece of cake for an SO3 - @WillAdams is so correct about this.
There are software packages that assist with inlaying. One of them is Vectric VCarvePro. We have high expectations that Carbide Create will add the necessary support for inlays.