Huge step up from Silvia, even with PID. More forgiving. More consistent. Waaaaaay more stable, particularly if you mix milk drinks in with shots. The double boiler and the E-61 make life lots easier. I like the location of the reservoir on the left side, so I can easily refill without moving it out from under cabinet. Warming tray is VERY warm - those two boilers really heat things up. I like the big drip tray too - its like having an extra sink down there. The non-plumbed thing is a disadvantage for some folks but a big plus for me given the location I have available in the kitchen. Due to the location and capacity of the reservoir and the size of the driptray, refilling and emptying are both easier and less frequent than with the Silvia.
Negative Product Points
The drip tray doesn't seat perfectly all the time, but this is such a small problem as to be inconsequential - I press it back down and I'm good. I've heard of parts failures, but after a month, no issues. I'll have to see about this one over time. Its not the most beautiful machine, but its not bad at all - the only really funky thing is the big EXPOBAR label on the drip tray.
This was a big upgrade from a Silvia with a PID. The best shots are no better than the best shots with the Silvia, but I can hit that level much more consistently and easily than with the Silvia. The E-61 pre-infusion must help - I use a bottomless portafilter and I haven't had a single spritzer with this machine - I'd get 'em periodically with the Silvia. And the convenience of a double boiler is just very hard to beat. I do a mix of milk drinks and shots and my wife and daughters almost always have milk drinks. The cycling back and forth between brew and steam with a single boiler was more of a pain than I realized until I used this for about five minutes. The constantly available steam and constantly stable brew temp is great and something I didn't fully appreciate until I had it. Also, the no-burn steam wand and two-hole tip make the steaming experience a big improvement over the Silvia as well. Also the temperature stability has allowed me to get comfortable with more espresso blends. With Silvia, I pretty much settled on Black Cat because its pretty forgiving of temperature variation. With the Brute, I'm just finishing a couple pounds of Vivace Dolce, which I'd tried before but never really gotten great results with. Now I'm getting great results with it.
No problem. Between a sale and a coupon code, I got it for just a bit over $1500 with another $100 credit that I applied toward a Macap stepless. I got it in two days and WLL was fine to work with. I haven't needed tech support yet, so I hope its good if and when I do. There seem to be plenty of owners out there to help with the most common problems (a few folks have had to replace the pumps within the first couple of years). The price was less than a lot of good HX machines and the advantages of a double boiler just seemed like a no-brainer to me. I'm all about reducing variables and the lack of the cooling flush requirement was a big one for me.