Good looking, good coffee, good steam performance. changing between pod and grounds isn't easy.
Positive Product Points
Very beautiful looking, small and easy to use machine. Big water reservoir, very functional froth aider, available in many a nice colour (mine is red).
Negative Product Points
Drip tray is plastic, though rather tough. You have to change the shower screen to change between ESE pod and ground coffee use. Cup Warmer doesn't get very hot in the rear area (where all the cups are since it slopes downwards)
I just love the aesthetics of Ascaso machines and must confess that I bought the small red Arc Fun mostly for its looks.(though I read all the reviews here first) The big chrome plated Brewhead and the red metal body make a fine looking machine which really draws the eye. What I wanted was a small machine for use by two persons which makes great Espresso and wouldn't have to make too many Cappuccinos or Lattes in a row. This is exactly what the Arc does. I really love the design and the heavy( for that size) finish of the machine. Boiler and Group are Brass and therefore provide a relatively high temp- stability. This leads to a rather long waiting time for steam to build up when you want to froth (about 1:10min). I froth first and make coffee afterwards which is no problem at all. The froth aider is the same as on the F!F! machines and frothes really good microfoam if you know how to do this (check out the How To on this site). I've read that people complain about having to wait for ages for the temp to drop after frothing, which to me signals that those people didn't read the manual. if you properly turn off the steam, open the steam valve and turn on the pump, run through half a cup of water until the red light goes on and then close the steam valve and wait 10sec for the light to go out you have optimum brewing temp within 25seconds. Not a big problem at all. Overall espresso quality is good but I can speak only for ESE use since I bought a used mchine which came equipped with the ESE shower screen, than one can only use pods until one changes the shower screen. I will get that spare part but haven't done yet. As a pod machine I'd rate it "good" but I haven't much experience there, only with a pressurised portafilter dirt cheap no name machine which did rather good ESE espresso too. Quite probably if you want an ESE machine the fixed portafilter option could be even better, but then you can't change to ground.
I think the new price is rather high, at least here in Germany (price above is EUROS I couldn't mark that new would be 450 Euros here), where I could also get a Silvia for that money, which is surely a slightly better machine (though more ugly)
Three Month Followup
Still love that machine! I bought the grounds-only grouphead and started using "real" coffe instead of pods and I am still very happy. Descaled the machine once (tapwater is rather hard where I live), which is easy to do. Switching between grounds and pods is easily done with a screwdriver in one minute. Latte Art-Microfoam is easy to do with the froth aider and took me just a few tries to get used to (I'm a professional Barista therefore I had to "relearn" ,might be even simpler for a newbie; the manual gives all the info you need.) Learned to love the quick heat-up time. When I have to hurry in the morning it is possible to pull a quite decent shot after seven minutes of heating up and one or two blank shots (used to preheat the cup). Buy again? Surely not..this thing is going to last, I wont need another;-) Buy something else? No!