First of all, if you are an obsessive tinkerer/fiddler/fusser/taster/go tta-have-the-latest-and-greatest person, you'll not only dislike this machine, you'll treat it with disdain...if you condescend to mention it at all.
If you think that a $75 titanium tamper will improve your shots, this is not the one for you.
If you think that a change from 192 degree water to 195 degree water can make all the difference, stop reading now.
On the other hand, if your head is clear and you have a life outside of coffee, but still enjoy a good cup on a regular basis, this may be what you are looking for.
Does it make God Shots (whatever they may be)? Nope
Does it make the best espresso you've ever tasted? Nope
Will it make the envy of all your coffeegeek friends? Probably not
What it WILL do is quickly, easily, cleanly, and neatly make you a respectable, if not great, cup of espresso. Perhaps more importantly, the cup you get will be the same every time unless you change types of water or blends of coffee.
That consistency is worth a lot to me. And you just don't get it in coffee shops, not even the boutique coffee shops that people gush about, not to mention Starbucks or ABP. Even the very best baristas have trouble pulling shots with perfect consistency, let alone the Starbucks employee who just had a fight with his/her significant other. Add to that variables such as who cleaned the grinder last and how thoroughly? What kind of water are we using today? And why did the owner dig out that old bag of beans in the bottom of the closet and use it instead of tossing it out? What do you get? Sometimes good, sometimes so-so, sometimes wretched.
I once sought out the establishment of one of the most lofty and disdainful posters on another coffee list. Guess what? His coffee was not consistently better than the other guys in town, even the chains. And the shots pulled by the man, himself, were the worst I had there.
You avoid that with the Nespresso system. turn it on, pop in a capsule, pull the handle, get on with your life.
The exterior of the machine is plastic but seems to be extremely sturdy. After a year of daily use, mine shows not even a hint of old age. I don't care for the retro styling but most people love it. The innards seem to be built like a tank. Once of these days I'm going to look and see.
As always, water quality is important. It won't fix bad water for you. And the limited number of blends will frustrate some people, as it occasionally does me.
The worst aspect of the machine--and it may be a deal breaker for some--is the steamer. It is a dinky , tinkertoy device that isn't nearly big enough and works neither consistently nor well. My coffee drinking buds and I very seldom go for milk drinks but if they are important to you, better buy a stove top steamer or choose another machine altogether.
Customer service is just great. They once made a trivial mistake in processing one of my orders and would probably still be apologizing if I hadn't asked them to stop. I've never had it take more than two working days to get my mail orders.
Despite my skeptical and sardonic tone, this is a good machine that works reliably and is well supported by the manufacturer. Your kids can use it. Your dog can probably use it. I don't turn to it when I want the very best but at 5:30 AM when I get up for work, it is right there and it serves me well.