I discovered this grinder, and its sibling (the Brasil) in a few posts in the Discussion forums, and on alt.coffee. The few folks who owned them seemed to be very pleased with them. I ran across some discussion of bad timer boards, but that was about the only serious negative that I found.
First Impressions: The grinder is heavy, and solid. The frame appears to be cast iron, with a sheet metal case. I had heard it was ugly, so I was expecting the worst. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Alright, it's not a countertop queen, but this machine isn't bad. It looks, well...functional! With the .5Kg hopper, it fits nicely under the cabinets. The frame has rubber feet, but even so, it rests with some pressure on the power cord, and it looks like a cutout in the casing would have been helpful. However, the cord is very sturdy, and does not appear to be taking damage. The hopper has a sliding closure at the bottom to allow hopper removal while full. The grind adjusting ring is plastic, but it appears to be sturdy.
Incidentally, the stock photo that appears here, and on various retailers' sites, is not exactly like my Tranquilo. On mine, the body is tapered, and is quite deeper (but not wider) at its base than at the top (similar to the Cunill Brasil). I suspect the motor is larger than in the model that is pictured (perhaps the photo is an older model).
Setup / Dialing In: There are no markings, and the manual was no help. I marked the zero point (with the grinder off and the hopper removed) by turning the adjustment collar slowly towards "fine" until the top burr made contact with the bottom one (the bottom one began moving with the top one). Then I moved it about 7 or 8 clicks in the "coarse" direction, and started grinding. This turned out to be a good starting place.
Owners Manual: Not much help at all. Poor translation, poor instructions. Pretty typical of imported espresso equipment. Fortunately, setup and operation are simple.
Grind Selection: It doesn't have infinite adjustment, but the settings are pretty close together. Adjusting is very easy, but numbers or markings would be helpful (I'll just have to make my own).
Dispensing Timer: This takes the place of a doser, and may be the poor man's version of what is used on the beautiful Mazzer Mini E. Adjustments are made by turning tiny control inside a small hole with a small screwdriver. There are no markings, and the only way to test it is to grind another dose. Since I didn't want to waste coffee, I tried to tweak this every time I made coffee. However, without markings, it is difficult to remember which way increases, and which way decreases the amount. I eventually got it where I like it, and it seems pretty consistent. There is a main power switch on the right side of the machine, so it can be turned off before the timer finishes (this is handy when you haven't quite got it set right).
Fit and Finish: The lid does not seat well on the dispenser funnel. When grinding, the lid may pop out. Even if it doesn't pop out, some grinds tend to escape onto the chassis behind the funnel (I simply hold the lid down when grinding). There are also some ridges inside the funnel that tend to keep some grinds from sliding down freely.
Discharge Chute: This seems to end up with several beans' worth of grounds in it. That seems to be typical of all flat (or "parallel") burr machines. With the funnel lid removed, it is very easy to sweep the chute out with a small brush.
Static: I've read that this is also not unusual. However, the plastic funnel is probably more prone to static cling than a metal one (like on the aforementioned Mazzer Mini E). A couple of "thumps" get most of it, but if I'm making only one espresso, I normally open the funnel anyway to clear the discharge chute; I just brush the remaining grounds down and into my filter.
Portafilter Fork: It doesn't quite align with the spout of the funnel, and is not quite close enough to the spout. I hold my portafilter higher--it catches more of the grounds that way. However, there is ample space atop the fork for a small container to catch grounds for drip or press (this may be why it's not mounted closer to the chute). The fork is welded on; I'd rather see it attached with screws, and adjustable.
Grind Quality: This is where the machine excels. I have only used this for espresso, so I cannot comment on grind quality for drip or press. Having upgraded from a Solis Maestro that didn't work well for me, this is a day & night difference. I have not noticed any powder at all, and the grind is very consistent from one day to the next. The grounds are similar in consistency to what I got from a local shop that uses commercial Rancilio machines.
Quality Control: There were a few batches of these machines with bad timer boards. Umberto Bonfante, at Sovrana Stores received quite a few of these. When the problem was discovered, he suspended sales of the machines until the timer boards were replaced. The manufacturer sent replacement timer boards, and they were bad! Some retailers were fortunate enough to have machines that were made without the bad boards. There are reports that some customers have purchased returned machines (with bad timer boards) at a great price, but without warranty. These owners have improvised different replacements for the timer, and seem very happy. This is, however, a project for the die-hard DIY'ers.
Price: I got mine for $187 (including shipping) from Cora Italian Specialties. I've heard they are no longer available at this price, due to unfavorable exchange rates. I would consider this machine a great value at up to $265, because it seems to be in the same league with the Rancilio Rocky (based on my reading about the Rocky--no firsthand experience).
For those who prefer a doser, Cunill offers the Brasil. Sovrana sold this machine for $249 (with a $50 alt.coffee discount).