Great entry-level HX machine that wil go the distance
Positive Product Points
Totally solid and reliable for me pulling a shot or two a day now over five years. Shots are reliable and predictable when paired with a decent grinder.
Low-water shutoff of boiler (rather than whole machine) is a feature I'd not be without. Uses standard portafilters and baskets. Easy to adjust temperature and brew pressures. Easy-to-read gauges.
Reasonable maintenance has included:
Replace group gasket (like any machine)
Replace float and group level washers (at five years)
Negative Product Points
Any HX machine has a learning curve to get temperature control down to something that works for you. Lights are hard to see, but don't convey much useful information.
This was my first "real" espresso machine at home, after a c. 1990 Estro Vapore, that prior to their moving to a pressurized portafilter. At work, I was using a late-80s, semi-commercial Rancilio (significantly bigger than a Silvia) and learned to pull and steam on that.
Paired with a Mazzer Mini and running on a timer, it has been my morning ritual to pull a shot, since the espresso always tasted good enough to not need milk to hide. Getting uniformity has been pretty easy with bottomless portafilters. Equipping it with Erics' E61 thermometer adapter has made my uniformity even better, though the old "flush until the bubbling on the bottom of the portafilter stops" held me well for several years.
For best results, I'd recommend 45 minutes or more for warm up time. At 20-30 minutes, the group is still coming to thermal equilibrium.
Since HX temperature control involves a lot of water, the tank can feel small at times. I'd probably go rotary (noise) and plumb-in (convenience) if I had to do it again, and had another $500 in my budget. Given what I had to spend at the time, I don't regret the decision at all.
Chris' Coffee has been great over the years, I'd buy from them again in a heartbeat (and did -- a Silvia / Rocky for my then girlfriend's house, before the Rancillios got silly expensive). Their excellent service is pulling me away from certain "step up" machines that they don't handle, since the experiences I've had with them have been, without exception, incredibly smooth and positive.