What is the real difference here? Is it worth the extra grand?
Same with the "advanced software" upgrades..
If you can afford it, then absolutely! I started out with the 4x4 with the basic height control and the advanced design program. That was a awesome starting set up! But more recently I upgraded to the advanced height control after talking some other owners. Once you try the advanced, it's like driving a Ferrari. Basically, with the advanced height control you can be talking on the phone and leave the machine to run on its own. It will avoid collisions, give you better cut quality on thinner than 16 ga material and your consumables will last much longer.
Collisions with material are the biggest pain in the but when you are running an Arc Voltage feedback type height control (this is plasmacam's basic height control and its the same type of height control that is available on every other brand of machine like Torchmate), because if you don't have the settings correct and your torch hits material and then it drags...then you have pretty much wasted that piece. This is why their advanced height control is sweet! You will never have a piece drag if you get that.
The advanced design program is completely worth it too. You can scan and bring in JPEG images in directly covert them to a dxf..you can also trace directly over them while the image is on the screen. If there are things in the image like line intersections then you can have the program fix the image automatically, which will save you hours of editing time. Plus, it has some killer templets for all sorts of parts where you can put in your dimensions and specs for things like brackets, gussets, saw blades, fan blades etc..and actually preview them before they are ready to cut. It makes things go pretty quickly.
The basic program that comes with the machine is good and easy to use, but designwise it is pretty much like any other standard cad program that comes with any other system (bottom line is that the advanced is way worth the money if you can swing it). If you can't swing it, then get it later. They will activate it through the net when you call.