For the Zing check out Sandy's sight Digital Die Cutting With Sandy McCauley
...she has lots of videos on how to do different techniques.
IMO embossing on digital die cutters doesn't turn out as good as using the embossing folders. However, the Pazzle embossing mat helps (I use it on my other machines)
I've owned and still own some of the machines being discussed (except a Gazzelle) and can tell you of all these machines the Zing and Pazzle seem more sturdy. For cutting thicker material, I always use my Zing or KNK Maxx.