I was a Bunn man for decades, but bought a Juan Valdez machine, as it was "free" with the purchase of 6 boxes of pods. I was impressed with it, even though the pods were not great and the coffee was a bit weak.
I bought the Senseo, really wanting another of the JV machines (aka Melita, Salton, etc). Boy what a difference.
Now Let's back up a bit.
Physical data: The machine is not small, but does have a slightly smaller footprint than the average full sized coffee maker. It is louder than you might expect, due to the massive heating element and the powerful pump. You might compare the sound sensation to that of making espresso perhaps. In addition, the stainless steel cup rest vibrates during operation, making more noise (It does not bother me, but you won't be making a secret cup of coffee with this machine). Also, the water holder is diminutive, holding enough water for two mugs only, and it does take two hands to remove the reservoir for filling. They do sell a larger reservoir on line for about $15.
The brewing experience: There are just enough steps involved in the brewing process to give the user the feeling of accomplishment that accompanies brewing a shot of espresso. Simply press the on/preheat button (which keeps the water warm for about an hour), insert your pod(s) in the pod holder (there is a smaller one pod holder and a larger two pod holder), lock the lid (good lever) and press the one or two cup brew button. If the machine is already warmed up, a great mug of coffee can be produced in thirty seconds. The coffee produced has a thick layer of crema, which does take some getting used to, but after a while it becomes an expected treat.
Note about the coffee produced: This machine makes a good full-bodied cup of coffee, even when using a lighter roast. If you like French Roast, Sumatra, and other stronger coffees, you will love the Senseo. If you like Dunkin Donuts coffee or gas station brew, you will probably be happier with a plain old drip coffee maker.
I agree, the pods sold in stores are not great, but they are getting better and soon gourmet pods will be the norm. Already there are EXCELLENT pods available on the web at sites like www.premiumpods.com, www.betterpods.com, and www.alohaislandcoffee.com. In fact, the Espresso Italiano at www.premiumpods.com is some of the BEST coffee I have ever had.
As for the cost-per-cup, even though a good pod costs .35 to .60, the savings from not throwing away half a pot of burned coffee more than reward the pod user.
The bottom line is I make my own pods (or "roll my own" as I call it). I demonstrate the process in a Palm Z-72 Video found at http://www.rainbowpediatrics.net/horwitz/Senseo.html, and it is very simple. I use a glass to press a 4 cup paper filter into a 1/3 cup measuring cup, thereby making a measuring cup shaped depression in the paper. I grind my favorite coffee very fine because I feel this gives me more of the full flavor of the beans (the best of course is Sumatra from the Little River Roasting Company), and spoon a few heaping teaspoonfuls into the filter. I do not measure it, but have a feeling for how much coffee will fit into the pod holder (if you make your pod too thick, the machine will not close fully and lock. I have never forced it, and expect it might break if you were to try). Then I carefully fold the edges over and lightly tamp it down. I can make a dozen quickly and store them in a ziplock bag. The result is simply the best cup of coffee I have ever consumed.
It is important NOT to allow any stray grounds get into the pod holder. There is only one small hole in the holder and a single ground can block it up leading to a mess. The more common outcome however is just that the machine will "lock up". Then you must wait about 10 minutes for it to cool down (on rare occasions up to 24 HOURS) and for the vacuum to break, and then you simply clean out the hole by blowing through it and start over.
There is no question in my mind that this is the future of coffee brewing.