It's not pretty but it makes great shots and steams milk so fast that you can barely stay a head of it.
Positive Product Points
Pretty much bomb proof machine for home use. With a little practice it makes great shots and steams milk so fast that the thermometer doesn't keep up. The black plastic case is much easier to keep looking clean than I expected. I use a bottomless filter most of the time and it often has a little spray somewhere. It is really easy to cleanup. The Temperature stability seems very good. and there really is not much to adjust on the machine. It lets you concentrate on grinding and dosing. The machine is built like a tank, and is relatively easy to work on. Parts are readily available, and many are generic.
I really like the direct connect feature. The reservoir on an Oscar is kind of a pain to fill, and the direct connect eliminates the need. Also you can drop the connection hose into a water container and use it as an external reservoir.
Negative Product Points
It certainly is not pretty or exciting looking. The steam valve is backwards from almost every other valve in the world. I still have to think about it. The lack of a hot water dispenser is is a bigger deal than I thought because it makes descaling the boiler more difficult. There is not much to adjust on it, but for the time being that is a positive. It takes a minimum of 1/2 hr to really heat up, but that is not a problem because we have it on a timer.
After 20 years or so with a SBDU Barista machine, I thought I knew what I was doing, but a trip to Italy last fall convinced me that I could do a lot better. After a few months of experimenting with a bottomless filter on the Barista I knew I needed to move up, and started looking for used HX or DB machines. I had looked at a used Oscar before, but it had been "rode hard and put away wet" so I passed. When I found this one that looked pretty nice for $300, I felt I had a winner. It was an older direct connect Oscar from a Craiglist ad for only $300.00 It was 8+ years old, but did not look too dirty or abused. I did find that the OPV valve was bad and would not let me build water pressure over a few bars. The replacement valve was readily available from Simonelli in Seattle and cured the problem.
I added a bottomless portofilter and replaced the original Oscar basket with a newer Oscar basket. When I drove out to look at the machine, I did not realize that it was direct connect, and initially was not too thrilled. As I have used it for a month, I really like it. I would recommend direct connect for any machine that did not need to be portable.
As expected I also had to upgrade my grinder, and went with a new Baratza Vario. With the combination I'm making far better espresso than I ever had before.
All in all I'm very happy with it. I'm concentrating on making good shots, and decent foamed milk. I make mostly cappuccino for myself and lattes for my wife, with a few straight shots during the week as well. I always taste the shot before making my cappuccino, so I know what the coffee tastes like. I think that the lack of adjustments on the Oscar is a real plus for someone trying to learn how to make good shots. I think it will last for a very long time, since it really is a commercial machine, that can be serviced at home.
I have Oscar plugged into a WeMo Timer so it turns on an hour or so before we get breakfast and then shuts down. I can turn it on or off with my iPhone so it is very convenient. The lack of a vacuum breaker/de-aireator does not seem to be significant.
Purchased off Craigslist so not much to offer. I did not realize that the OPV was bad originally, but I would have bought it regardless.