Unfortunately, I can't comment on the ability to anneal in a kiln,
but I can try to offer a little insight for the other queries. I
recently bought a Paragon SC-2 kiln, with bead door. Some day I hope
to do lampworking, so I invested in the bead door, although that's
really not a big jump $$-wise. For now, I use it for PMC, glass
fusing & enamelling. I considered spending the extra money for the
window, but because I was already putting out more than enough $$ at
the time, and to get the window could have added another few weeks
to the delivery time (which I did NOT want to wait for!), and the
window can only go up to 1700 deg and I didn't want to restrict
myself, I didn't get the window. Sure, there are times when it could
be helpful. Since I have the bead door, though, if my shelf isn't set
on high supports I can open the bead door quickly & peek in. If you
don't mind a few more bucks and you don't mind waiting longer to get
it, though, it could be a good thing. The only other thing, then, is
the 1700 deg restriction.
As for top vs. front loading, I wanted the front loading because I
didn't want to have to reach in there to put things in & take them
out. I don't know how you'd do it, actually, with the top loader.
The only time I've seen one in use was for my fusing class, and then
she waited until the oven was 500 deg or lower, then picked each
piece up with her gloved hand. I'd rather just open the door & pull
the whole shelf out with my big fork. Plus, I don't have to lean over
it & have all that heat on my face. I have MS and I like to avoid
heat like that, although it's extremely hot no matter one's health
issues (or lack thereof). With some things, you would put them in
cold (or relatively cold), and maybe even take them out cold (or at
least, again, relatively cold), so it might not be a big issue. With
enameling, though, they go in & out with the kiln super hot, and you
can't just reach in and pick them up.
For the digital, it makes it super easy to use the kiln. I can't
imagine having one without it, although I'm not totally versed on
what the alternatives would be. I've always heard, though, if you
can get a digital one, do it!
I hope that helps a bit. By the way, I got mine at www.mudinmind.com.
They had the best price I found, and Shauna was very helpful in
answering all of my questions. No affiliation, just a happy customer.
Designs by Lisa Gallagher