Amazing quality and power. Compared to the Brewtus II this machine has a much more solid feel. Great steam power, much quieter, less vibration.
Negative Product Points
I am not a huge fan of the black plastic sides but the design has grown on me a bit. It would be nice to see stainless or chrome.
This machine is very sturdy and very high quality. I owned a Brewtus 2 before this and actually sold it because of being laid off and returning to the student life/graduate school. But something else came thru and I did not end up going back to school. I moved to a new town, and a place where easy plumb-in was possible. I took the opportunity to jump to the S1 based on the forums and feedback at places like Coffee Geek. The Brewtus had been OK, but I definitely felt like I was on my own with fixing it and hadn't been overly thrilled with problems encountered in the past. I figured Chris Coffee was a good company to have behind me and liked idea of easy plumb-in if I wanted, or Flojet if I want to be mobile.
The forums take on the S1 were not wrong - this machine is powerful and solid. I have had zero problems with the Vivaldi 2. In retrospect, the Brewtus seems flimsy and cheap by comparison. The chromed brass looks cool, though. That's about all it has going for it over the S1.
I started out with the external pump (flojet) hookup for a few weeks then plumbed in the water one evening. It is very, very easy to plumb in as long as you've got normal shutoffs under your sink. Normal meaning you can disconnect the (braided) water hose from the shutoff valve. I had some weird 30 yr old ones that were 1 piece so I had to buy new shutoffs from Home Depot and install those. (I recommend spending the extra for the newer push-fit style - so much faster and I don't have to risk burning my house down sweating on copper fittings under my cramped sink). I have a carbon filter in-line with the water. Both methods work perfect. I later put the drain kit in. I had to drill out a large hole in the plastic drain kit to get it to drain right but eventually it worked without leaking. I did not see instructions for the drain kit but sorta figured it out myself. The timer was not intuitive to learn, but once I actually read the instructions it made sense and works fine.
After about 3.5 months with this machine I am very happy with it. The timer works perfect and it's always ready to go in the morning. With plumbed in water and drain I can really crank and feel like a Pro putting drinks together. No stopped for anything. When entertaining it has no problems with shots one after another. The shot cutoff is very firm and precise and the auto dispensing is an unexpected positive. I has previously thought that was bad and that I would miss having the control over the shot, but it's so accurate (volume-based, not time based) that I always get the 2 oz shot as long as I don't choke it with the wrong grind. Sometimes I add more water or cut off early, but I like the button vs. the lever. Plus, I've found I run to the fridge during the shot if somebody wants milk and it cuts off right when it should. With the B2 I had to stay there till the shot was done.
It is quieter than the Brewtus, though still not silent obviously. The brewtus vibe pump would shake the chassis and create a lot of noise. Now my grinder is the loudest thing in the kitchen in the morning.
Chris Coffee hasn't had a chance to get involved w/ support because nothing's gone wrong yet. But they were really helpful ordering and following up after the order to make sure everything worked. I also was impressed with the shipping materials vs. the Brewtus. My B2 shipping materials arrived smashed to pieces so if I had ever wanted to send it back for repairs I'd have had to come up w/ my own materials. The S1 shipping materials were really solid and easy to re-use.
Overall, the fit and feel is very solid and sturdy. It's hard to explain. It feels like Pro equipment or something. I am very satisfied with the purchase.
When I ordered they called me to make sure I was including all the add-ons that made sense. I had neglected a few not knowing what I needed, and they even threw in some stuff for free because I was buying so much.