I bought my Pavoni directly at the Canadian distributor, Canterbury coffee in Vancouver, for $1075 CDN. I did quite a bit of research on news:alt.coffee, http://www.coffeekid.com, and Pavoni-specific web sites like http://www.gurus.net/pavoni/ and http://www.kazys.net/pavoni/. I was primarily looking for a machine that makes excellent espresso and cappuccino. What I also liked about this machine is the nice design, the fact that it is not too bulky, and that it gives me full control over the process.
I had to spend quite a bit of time experimenting before getting the expected results. I can see how many people might be disappointed and give up too early, but you CAN learn hot to consistently make great coffee. Read the above mentioned web sites and follow the instructions there.
What helped me the most is to start with Illy pre-ground espresso. That eliminates one factor you have to experiment with. Filling the tank high enough, learning how to tamp right, and the timing when pulling the shot where the main factors to get right. The professional model can take up to 10 minutes to get up to temperature. Once you get to know the machine, you can tell right away whether you got the shot right - by the time until the first drops of espresso drip out of the portafilter, and from the resistance when pulling down the handle.
With a good grinder (I am using a Saeco M2002 at setting 0) and the right beans, I get a thick, golden brown crema, and the coffee has a lot of flavour and tastes sweet, not bitter, even without sugar.
I am still working on my frothing technique, and I don‘t like that the steaming wand only moves a bit up and down. However, I can very easily produce better foam than my previous Krups machine. Just use a larger jug with cold milk, and keep the wand close to the surface of the milk.
When compared to the Europiccola, I would recommend the extra money spent for the larger tank, pressure gauge and added temperature control of the professional model.