Got the Debut III up and running last night, and very pleased so far. No dings, and no problems with the sound (once I got it set up correctly, more on that later). The only issues is that the stylus is bent to the side toward the center of the record more than I'd like. The consensus is that some inward bias is OK, and that if it gets moved too far, it will return to center with time, so I'm not too worried, but I'm keeping an eye on it. It's less bent now the more I play it, and it's not screwing up the sound in either channel, so I'm cautiously optimistic.
When I initially set it up, the sound was pretty bad, though. Instruments sounded OK, but vocals were distorted and weak, and all the records I tried were very prone to skipping. I was ready to return it but figured out by accident that I had been adjusting the counterweight incorrectly, and that the tracking force was too low. I had balanced the tonearm by sliding the counterweight along the arm, but the internal thread in the CW wasn't grabbing the guide on the tonearm, so when I then turned the CW to adjust the tracking force, the CW was just spinning in place. During one of these tests, it popped onto the guide, and I saw that the rotation was now actually moving the CW up and down the tonearm. This made the initial balancing much easier, and then dialing in the tracking force was simple too. After that, sound and tracking were greatly improved. Big relief. One record still has a stubborn nick that makes it skip every time (right at the beginning of Back in Black - grrr), but everything else I've played is tracking well, and it all sounds good.
Interesting note on the Art DJ v. the Phonobox MM. When the tracking force was screwed up, the phonobox was putting out a much better sound than the Art DJ, but once I got the tracking force fixed, I couldn't tell the difference. So phonobox is going back today, and I'm saving the $60 toward a record washer.