It can be picky, but makes great espresso. If you really want everything done for you - buy a fully automated machine.
Positive Product Points
Makes a great cup of espresso. The machine produces great crema - enough to hold a teaspoon of sugar for about 4 seconds. It's also very pretty and shiny (less important but very nice nonetheless.) It heats up in about 8-10 minutes on a cold (Canadian = very cold) morning.
Negative Product Points
The only real problem is the machine builds up quite a head of steam, It can be difficult to pull a shot of more than 20 seconds at less than 12-15 bar of pressure, no matter how much my grind is adjusted. That being said though, the coffee is rarely burnt and I have nothing against an 18 second shot at 12 bar of pressure. The steam wand tends to be drippy during the warming period and needs to be positioned over the drip tray or it will drip hot water on your counter (we're only talking about a half a tablespoon or less of water here - not a lot, but enough that over the long run, it might leave a water stain on your counter if you don't pay attention to the where steam wand is.)
I used to get an espresso or a cafe latte from the Italian coffee house around the corner every morning and rave about it. Now, I make a better (and more consistant) cup at home. In the grand scheme of things I think this is a great review of the machine in and of itself. I will grant you that there is a fine line for the right amount of coffee to use in the portafilter and too much (portafilter won't seat in the grouphead if it is overfilled) but that's because I don't have a doser on my grinder. So you tend to dump a bit of coffee at first, but that's as much my fault as the machines' design. Also, if the machine has been on a while the handle heats up near the portafilter, but it isn't unmanageable. The positive experiences I have had with this machine far outway the small complaints I have about it. It really does make a great espresso. I took a chance and I bought my machine before there were any reviews about it on coffee geek, and I have had no problems with my machine at all, it doesn't leak steam, It hasn't broken down and I have used it daily for over two years now. Overall I'm happy with my purchase and I certainly feel like I have gotten my money's worth out of it.
I got the "car salesman" feeling from them at first, but when I looked around their price was the lowest I could find for my machine (by about 25-50 dollars.) overall, I had a positive experience with my reatiler. They were helpful and knowledgeable.