Purchased this machine recently, and so far I think it is a good machine with a fitting price range.
-Coffee is GREAT. Best cup of coffee I have ever had. With adjustable grind settings, and simply mechanical strength setting it is easy to get the hang of. The strength setting (or how much coffee is ground for the shot) is on the side near the bean grinder. It is a plastic lever that has about 10 different positions. I have had it to about half way, and it is extremely strong at that point. Do not want to try it stronger.
-Included cappuccino attachment is great. This attachment connects to a dedicated port on the left side of the machine. It has an adjustment for how much froth is added (eg. steam to milk ratio). Just put the tube into a container of milk, and your cup underneath. Very simple and easy to use. Activation is done by pressing the cappuccino button, and takes about 4 seconds to start pulling milk through. This is a really great feature that is mostly seen by machines in the $2000-$3000 price range. The $3000 machines usually have the milk container that is integral to the machine, which is slightly more convenient. For the price savings, this is an excellent system.
-Manual hot water and steam are easy to use, with really fast start up time. Manual hot water is turned on by just pressing a button, and hot water comes out to steam nozzle in the front of the machine. Press it again and it stops. Steam is provided by turning a knob on the front to steam, and pressing the hot water button. Steam startup takes about 3-5 seconds (same as the cappuccino attachment). The nozzle is nice and long so it should get to the bottom of some pretty tall mugs. Also the steam wand pivots out from the machine, which is nice.
-Removable brew group is a great thing to have. Coming from a machine with a non-removable unit, this is great. The other machines claim there automatic clean cycle is just as effective. It is not. Upon opening up my old malfunctioning machine, it was disgusting. I couldn't believe I drank coffee from it. This was after running the clean cycle with the cleaning tablets right on schedule. Removable brew group makes it much easier, albeit a bit more manual, to clean. Then you know that the machine is clean and hygienic.
-Plumb able. The most annoying thing is having to fill the water reservoir. This machine you can plumb, via a 3/4" threaded connection on the back (like a garden hose connection). I have not tried it yet, but the feature is a great thing to have.
-Active cup warmer is nice, and keeps your mugs pretty warm. Nothing special here, but saves the hassle of steaming you mug prior. Not that I know anyone that warms there cup first anyways.
-Unit is mounted to a swivel base for easy rotation of the machine to fill the water or beans. This is really innovative, and very convenient.
-The instructions are terrible. This is an Italian made machine, and the instructions read as though they were written by someone in Italy that was not fluent in English. The instructions were good enough to get me going, although I do have prior experience with super-automatics. The biggest problem someone might have getting going is the unit is programmed to be hooked up to the water supply from the start, meaning you will get an error on the machine if you just fill the reservoir and try to use it. You need to get into the menu and change it if you are not going to plumb the machine.
-Warmup time is slow. It can take almost 2 minutes before you can brew. Not horrible, but if you are in a hurry in the morning it could be a hassle.
-No rinse when powering off the machine. I can only assume that with no clean water rinse upon machine power down will lead to coffee buildup in the non-removable parts. Only time will tell on this one. A start-up rinse cycle is offered. Time will tell with this, but I think that they should have included a power off rinse function.
-No cleaning or rinsing cycle reminders. They say to run through the 5 minute long special rinse cycle every 200 cups of coffee. It does not tell us that the machine will remind me when it is due to be rinsed. The manual also says to clean the machine once a month (brew group), but again I don't think there are any reminders for this.
-Plastic housings could be better quality. The plastics seems a bit cheap. The reservoirs and bean container covers are difficult to put on. The bypass doser cover is not attached and doesn't clip into place, so I can imagine this will get lost eventually.
-Overall machine is pretty quiet, with exception to 2 loud clicks whenever you brew. Seems normal as YouTube video's i have seen of this machine all make the same noise.