I looked at this grinder and the Baratza for some time, here on CoffeeGeek and other sites. I discovered that Williams-Sonoma carries both, and I was glad to have a chance to actually see and heft each unit. I also had a gift certificate there, which lowered my price by $50. Nevertheless, I wasn't going to buy just on price (although I was reluctant to pay hundreds of dollars so I can make a cup of espresso in the morning!).
Both units had good ratings as 'value' grinders. I had been using a blade grinder and had come to understand the challenge of making good espresso with such - it was quite variable. When I went to the store and actually saw both units, I liked the overall design of the Breville better than the somewhat 'arty' design of the Baratza. Hey, it's going in my kitchen, not a gallery. But it's not an unattractive item by any means, and seems solidly competent standing on the counter. Moreover, the Breville looked like it would better serve how I use my equipment: typically, I make one or two doubles in the morning.
Some have commented on the plastic of the Breville as seeming flimsy or cheap. To the contrary, I think that the design of the catch bin is quite well considered, as it pours nicely into the portafilter. It seems delicate, but not underengineered; I think it would look cheap if it were thicker and bulkier. The plastic they used seems to 'shed' the ground coffee very efficiently; I never have to wipe out the bin, all the coffee pours into the PF. I don't fill the upper reservoir, especially since I typically have two to four different beans on hand at any given time. I've found it works to pour a single scoop of beans into the hopper and hit the button; with some experimentation, I've found a timer setting where it whirs for a second or so after the beans are fully ground, so I'm confident I don't have beans left in the machine. For the first week or so I was checking; I've quit, as it grabs every bean every time.
I wonder about people who say this grinder doesn't grind fine enough. I'm dead on the 'espresso' setting, which is several clicks up from the bottom; one click further up was too coarse. Setting it finer, I was seeing extraction take too long and the shot be too bitter. Of course, I give it a firm tamp, and I wonder if that's an issue for others. I'm using a Breville Cafe Roma (stop sniggering, person) with an unpressurized portafilter (cannibalized from my old Krups) and I get excellent crema and full flavor from the various beans I've tried.
The other day, my eight-year-old was surprised to see me making espresso after dinner. It just sounded good, I explained. My current combination inspires me to draw a shot "just because".
The only negative I noted is that the power switch is a rocker on the side that faces the wall in my kitchen. If I push the machine toward the wall, the rocker will become 'centered' and the grinder won't run. It would be nice if it were recessed.
I like machines that do their job well without a lot of fanfare and foo-foo. I'm quite happy I bought this unit, and would be happy if I'd paid full price. I have no idea what a more expensive unit would do better.