All softeners, regardless of price, should soften your water (i.e. reduce the hardness to 0 grains).
Some questions to ask before you buy one are:
• How long will the unit last?
• How often does it regenerate?
• How large is the grain capacity?
• What is the warranty?
• How long has the company been in business?
• Does the softener regenerate based on a time or actual water demand?
• How easy is it to change the settings and add salt to the unit?
• How quickly can you get your questions answered and your problems solved?