More or less unbeatable functionality at this price point.
Positive Product Points
Easy to use electronic interface. Programmable Pre-infusion and dwell Standard 58mm Portafilter; Bottomless is available In box tamper is quite good. PID for temperature stability Added thermoblock for steaming instead of changing boiler temp. 3 way solenoid valve for pressure release
Negative Product Points
Plastic Hoses for internals Medium-Low steaming pressure Cannot steam milk and pull espresso at the same time.
My review is for the CC1 version 1.5, not the original. Out of the box this thing is practically ready to go. The instructions are easy to follow, and any of us born onto a pc can navigate the electronic interface with ease. Let the thing heat up for about 20-30 min, run a blank shot, grind&tamp, pull an espresso. Fairly strait forward, but the pre-infusion and dwell time will take some time to get right based on how much coffee you dose into the basket.
One of the key tricks to this machine is getting water to the group before brewing, especially if you use preinfusion. Sometimes it takes 3-4 seconds before water gets to the group just off of warming it up. Another trick I've found is that overdosing can be really easy to do with this machine. I believe its the fact the shower screen sinks into the portafilter so much, I have a 21 gram LM basket so I can use higher doses. 16 grams was the most I could pack into the stock double basket with good results.
In my opinion there is no better espresso machine at this price point in terms of functionality. The steam boiler can be ready to steam small amounts of milk in time to make latte art, something other machines with just a single boiler for brewing and steaming cannot do.
Clicked buttons on SGC's website, came with other stuff in a boatload of packing peanuts, foam, and packaging tape in a timely manner.