Yep, I'm in Austin, Texas, USA.
I did a ton of experiments with infusing/compressing fruits and veggies last week. The VP112 is certainly capable of strong infusions. My new favorite is white wine-infused apple slices. They are delicious and strange. Compression didn't go so well. While there was some compression, it wasn't what I was hoping for. I read on eGullet that I might need to compress, cut the bag open, compress again, and repeat a few times to get a true change in texture. Apparently, this is because each compression cycle only crushes a small region of cells on the outside of the fruit. I'll be trying that soon.
1. I plugged it in, turned it on, and sealed my first bag within seconds. It is very easy to use. It is set from the factory to pump for 35 seconds, and seal on setting 5 (which is about 2.5 seconds, I think). I find this to be fine for almost everything I've sealed in it, but I'll occasionally set the pump to go for longer if I want an extra strong vacuum. The sealing setting is fine at 5, and a change is really only necessary if you're using thick bags or FoodSaver bags.
2. The instructions are minimal but sufficient (http://vacmaster.aryvacmaster.com/vacmaster/pdf/VP112_Manual.pdf
). It's so easy, there's not much to write about.
3. I just sealed up 13 portions I cut from a 11 pound brisket. No liquid involved, but I was impressed at how easy and fast the VP112 tackled this task. It would have taken much longer on a FoodSaver due to the sealer bar cooling time. I also sealed some sirloin steak tips in marinade and cooked that sous vide. I wasn't sure how long to cook them because they're basically the bits of meat from the sirloin that are too small to sell as steaks. Plus, a marinade is usually intended to help tenderize the meat, so I should have taken that into account. I cooked them for 6 hours and they were completely falling apart. Still delicious, but it was more like beef stew than steak. It's funny - now that I can seal liquids, I realize that there aren't a lot of sous vide recipes that involve cooking foods sealed in liquid! I think I'll try something similar to poaching. Pork chops poached in bacon grease seem like a delicious and sinful first experiment. :-)
Chili is a great idea! I've done several batches sous-vide, but I just cooked the beef sous vide and finished the chili the conventional way. I'll cook up some sous vide chili soon and report my results.
I actually bought a rolling kitchen cart just for the VP112. I wanted to be able to move it around and save my limited counter space. It stays in the garage until I'm ready for it (there is a door between the garage and kitchen). Then I just roll it right in, do the job, and roll it back out. I store my bags, boards, containers, etc on the bottom racks. It's perfect! If anyone is interested, my cart is the Seville Classics SHE18304. It's 18x34 inches, so there is plenty of room around the VP112, which is handy as a "staging area" for bags. The cart is rated to hold up to 500 pounds. It also looks great with the VP112 - chrome, baby!
I also wanted to report that so far, the VP112's vacuum port works perfectly with my FoodSaver containers. I haven't tried all of them, but they all use the same size tube, so I don't see why they wouldn't work. I would advise you to keep an eye on the container, though - the vacuum level is so much higher on the VP112 that I'm actually a little worried about crushing the FoodSaver containers.