*Excellent* value for money, particularly if you get the $100 refurb. unit.
Positive Product Points
Solid internal construction. Head and portafilter made of heavy chromed brass -- retains heat a long time. Water tank is easy to refill.
Negative Product Points
Body is made of "thermoplastic" -- or, as the rest of us non-marketers might put it, "plastic." This is really only an aesthetic concern - doesn't affect the coffee produced.
As of the time of this writing (01/2000) the Espresso can be found refurbished for $100, making it a truly great deal for an entry-level quality espresso machine. New, it goes for about $150.
Over the last five years, I've bought and given away about seven of these, and only one has required professional attention so far. They are really very simple machines, and with a minimum of care should last many years.
The Espresso's internal components are, as far as I can tell, identical to the guts of the metal-bodied (and much more expensive) Gaggia Coffee model. The Espresso and Coffee both lack the solenoid valve found on the pricier models like the Baby, Classic and Paros. (This valve can make things tidier, but does not improve the taste of the coffee)
The body of the Espresso is plastic, which makes it seem a tad less "classy" than the sleeker, metal-bodied Gaggia offerings. It is usually available in either black or beige -- the beige looks *very* dated these days, in my opinion. The black isn't so bad, and blends into kitchens' decors easily.
Used properly and in conjuction with a good grinder, the Espresso can turn out consistently great espresso for a fraction of the price of most comparable machines. If your espresso budget is ~$250, I wholeheartedly recommend you spend $100 on a refurbished Espresso, $125 on a good burr grinder and $25 on coffee to practise with.
For someone just getting into home espresso, I think the $100 Gaggia Espresso is a win/win proposition. Even if you later decide you want a prettier / better / more expensive machine, you can probably sell your Espresso on Ebay for more than you paid for it -- especially if you keep the original box.