Great. cheap beginner machine- has traced my learning curve and not held be back thus far.
Positive Product Points
Good price, very decent machine (in the opinion of this novice). I consistently thick crema and tasty espresso, using semi-fresh beans and a Capresso Infinity grinder (which I also highly recommend.)
Negative Product Points
No dispersion screen, shot splitter doesn't split evenly, small water reservoir. Indicator light comes on before machine is hot. Little plastic tamper is a joke, but gets the job done for me.... I haven't found a suitably sized replacement yet..
It is slow to make multiple drinks, so If I'm serving friends I become a full-time barista (which isn't so bad, I suppose).
With this machine my espresso has improved directly with my skill, so I would recommend it to a beginner looking to get into espresso. One issue that annoys me is the lack of a dispersion screen; if left to it's own devices, the machine will dig a hole in the center of the puck, resulting in less-than-optimal espresso (in both appearance and taste). To remedy this, a proper grind and tamp help. There is also a rubber piece included that is sort of "fans" out the water. This works, as long as it is not pressed into the tamped espresso, but allowed to sit lightly on top of it.
Pre-ground doesn't cut it (I tried.) My $100 Capresso Infinity does the job.
The milk frother works alright, but I wish it was a bit more powerful. Honestly, I've never used anything else, but when I go to a real cafe, I always envy their delicate cappucino froth. It could also be my technique, to an extent.
Overall, for $150 (grinder+machine) I can completely beat the socks off any local starbucks or seattle's best. (unless you want an apple cider latte or some crap... :)
I grabbed a used one on ebay for $50. I would, however, pay retail for it if I needed to.