I've had this machine for 3 years now, using it daily.
Others comments are spot-on: get the grind right, and tamp correctly. It's something of a shame to use this for café con leche, because it's only when you produce a shot of espresso that it really shows its stuff.
The reservoir is quite small, so if you are a couple who want 2 or more shots each every day, you'll be filling the tank just about every day, too. It takes its sweet time heating up. After 2 single or double batches, the group head overheats, so cool it down with a water-soaked dishrag. (So if you like to serve espresso after dinner for a party of 8, you're in for a bit of work - get the Rancilio instead.)
The manual mentions nothing about de-scaling, so I didn't. It plugged up recently, and Jim from 1st Line said to de-scale it, which is no more or less of a pain than with other machines. With daily use, I figure every 6 months for de-scaling is about right.
You would think that a machine costing about a grand and having basically 1 moving part would be able to put an auto-stop switch in for low water levels, but no: they warn that if you run it dry you'll burn it out. (Very Italian, that, as is the red light that goes out when the machine reaches temp and pressure.)
I never had a problem getting used to the machine, but recently had houseguests over, and one female friend had to struggle a bit to get it working - she often didn't get the portafilter really locked in, which made for rather spectacular explosions of coffee grounds in the kitchen. She also had to use both hands to get the lever down, although she is pretty athletic.
Bottom line: after 3 years and countless shots, it still works and looks like new.
10-year (almost) update:
I got a gasket set from Jim at 1st-Line years ago, assuming it would need it. The gasket set is still in the drawer. This machine is used daily, no exceptions, and it still pulls a perfect shot. It is a true happiness machine. BTW, whenever you notice the pressure from the steam wand lightening up some, that's a good signal for a descaling. I've also changed my take on the "cost vs. value" rating - anything that works this well for this long is a great value, regardless of its purchase cost.