Good first step for a person who wants to start on a pump based machine, if you find it cheap enough.
Positive Product Points
Consistent performance and good crema with the right grind. No wait between shots. It was my first real espresso machine after the pressure based Krups and the difference was awesome.
Negative Product Points
Steam not strong enough, I bought a hand foamer and used the microwave to heat the foam. I know, I know, it is not pure, but it worked fiine for me. The reliability of the product is low. Mine rusted outside within 1.5 years, and the boiler expired after 2.5 years ($150 to replace). Hard to replace gasket.
Bought it 2.5 years ago for $399 over the internet, you can buy it for $300 today (11/2001) if you go to the repair place. It is a good machine while it lasts, but alas does last long. My next one will not be this machine.