Should you buy an ice cream maker? Before visions of freshly made fudge swirl make you say yes, consider one huge potential annoyance factor, cleobeach says on Chowhound: Some new models require you to store a large bowl insulated with freezing liquid in your fridge for a long time. It takes a lot of space and advance planning—you can't just pop it in Saturday morning and expect to have ice cream after lunch (cleobeach's ice cream maker was given away in frustration). Older models (like jmcarthur8's) require ice and salt: a huge amount of ice, which also probably involves some advance planning.
But despite issues of space and logistics, an ice cream maker can be a good thing. For instance, elfcook really appreciates being able to make ice creams for family members with food allergies. And tim irvine (who doesn't find managing one too onerous) likes to be able to add ingredients too fancy or risky (raw egg yolks!) to be used in most commercial ice creams. Finally, Querencia loves the variety and creativity possible with home makers, whether that means kiwi sorbet or double-chocolate amaretto ice cream.
Just remember that home makers yield a softer ice cream than you buy from the supermarket, NotJuliaChild says, noting that it'll get solid after a few hours in the freezer, though. If you like it soft, add a bit of alcohol to the mix (alcohol lowers the freezing point), or zap it a few seconds in the microwave.
Discuss: Ice Cream Machines