I'm in the market for a small moving light console. Right now it's between the Elation Show Designer 2 and the ETC Smartfade ML.
Obviously the Smartfade is a more "pro" board but it doesn't appear to be as easy to use for the type of work I'll be doing which is live music. The Smartfade seems to be geared more towards theater where you have a lot of rehearsal time (which I do not).
I'm the mirror image of Duane. I own a SmartFade ML but have never used the ShowDesigner series.
I just finished a week-long conference where I piloted the SmartFade ML the whole time. My rig is 24 channels of dimmers for front light, 16 LED PARs, and 2 Varilite VL770 movers.
Though you can certainly build a full stack and run a theatrical show, I would argue that the SmartFade ML is very decent at busking for a small to medium sized rig. The board automatically builds color pallettes for your fixtures, and focus and beam pallettes are easy to save for the movers - set the fixtures, press Record, [focus, color], then the number of the pallette you want to save to.
Having 24 submasters is very nice. At the conference I just finished, I built a bunch of lego memories - wash scenes, uplight scenes, mover patterns, etc. and then recalled at will. I set the left bank of 12 faders to run my LEDs, and the right bank for mover focus and beam patterns. The software editor makes editing memories very easy, though I found that general scene building was a lot faster using the board.
I agree with Duane that with any board more complicated than a simple 2-scene dimmer board, you will always need to take some time to build your component scenes.