Skip the form, go for the function. Get the "Ergo" edge, your shots will be better for it.
Positive Product Points
Perfectly weighted, precision crafted, comfortably formed, all-aluminum tamper (or "packer" if you prefer). Interchangeable "pistons" permit use with various sized portafilters for only $15 per (although I question the viability of such a gimmick). VERY useful sight-lines for gauging adequate packed depth--a definate advantage over the Reg. Sharp, utilitarian design well matched to stainless equipment.
Negative Product Points
The Ergo definately lacks the panache and warmth of its only real competitor, the Reg Barber wooden handled tampers. No option to personalize the handle, like the Reg. No stainless piston available, only softer, damageable aluminum.
With every serious espresso afficianado seeking to round out their equipment investment, when it comes to the choice of which tamper/packer to use, it invariably arrives at deciding between the voluptuous Reg Barber models and the more utilitarian Ergo Packer by Schomer's Espresso Vivace.
Obviously, I chose the Ergo--here's why.
First, it wasn't easy. In fact, it was more of a brain-wracking exercise than deciding between my Livia 90 and the ECM Giotto. Actually, it was a "heart versus head" argument. By the time you read this, I will have undoubtedly broken down and bought both. What's a measly $40 on top of the $3,000+ I've already spent on this gosh-forsaken "hobby"?
Anyway, the reasons I opted for the Ergo turned out to be what I consider as a crucial strength that the Ergo possesses and the Reg does not. It's all about the LINES! The Ergo has two, colored circumferential lines around the top of the piston on the packer. As it turns out, using the deeper, double shot La Marzocco basket with my Livia, the lower RED line on the Ergo seems to be the precise "sweet spot" for my tamps. If the red line is higher, the coffee is either too close or comes in contact with the group screen. If it approaches the BLACK, upper line, then there's not enough coffee and, all variables being equal, my shots are too short (by a whopping five (5) seconds or more!).
The Ergo has proven its worth as a precision tool offering a distinct advantage for the newbie (and probably not-so newbie, considering the baristas at Espresso Vivace use them) seeking consistency and the more-than-occasional "Gosh Shot". Additionally, if Schomer and Prince use the Ergo, then who am I to argue with two of the most respected and credentialed names in the espresso world?
The Ergo, while undeniably not as sumptuous as the Reg, is very handsome in its own right. Were it not for the Reg's stunning good looks, the Ergo would arguably be the best looking tamper on the market.
If you can live without the most artistically appealing tamper, you can have the most useful one in the Ergo.
Again, punched a few keys on the Espresso Vivace.com site and got my tamper and book a few days later. Your typical web-buying experience.