Eric, my experience with the MiniMax 16 was rather similar.
The manual is godawful, worse than Grizzly's manuals of 12 years ago were (and
those were legend).
I have never had a bandsaw, but I do have a club (The Long ISland Woodworkers'
Club) to draw resources form. Turns out I did not need it.
The saw was ordered from MiniMAx at our Annual SHow (to give a plug will be
April 17 and 18 at Hofstra University this coming year), and came in 2 weeks.
There are more problems with ordering anything overseas since Sept. 11, and
taht will probably be true for years.
The saw came fully assembled, but did have some defects: A badly dented top
door (from shipping), a bent miter guage, a cracked, but working switch plate,
and, worst of all, a badly chipped and scratched cast iron tabletop.
I called MiniMax the next day, and with some apologies, everything, including a
very expensive but pristine top was sent to me. That top was heavy and
expensive, but was sent without any request of a photo or anything. They are
very competent and nice, a good combination.
Setup was easy, squaring the table, which I figured would take hours took maybe
20 minutes, and with that carbide blade up, I can take a thinnnes of cuts
without the blade slowing down.
The saw is built liek a tank, heavier wheels than the Laguna, and for the
equivalent Laguna (The HD model) it's cheaper and heavier. The weight is all
steel and cast iron, and if there is any vibration on this saw, I can't detect
it. The dust collection works better than the Laguna (the chute is closer to
the blade), and at 475 pounds, it's still easy to move around the shop.
It has one weakenss: The mobility kits. It works great, but the wheels are held
on by crappy little spring clips, and I have had to replace two of them already
(they are avaialble at any hardware store, and I suggest you get a dozen). It's
a great saw once you get the export grease off (a lot of miieral spirits and
elbow grease required), and I am very happy with it.