I'm very happy with this machine. I think it is the equal of any machine at the price.
Positive Product Points
Reliable, easy to use, makes great coffee, very attractive
Negative Product Points
taking off the case is a chore, no access to pressurestat without taking off case, The heating element burned out after 6 months of use.
This is my first machine. I was looking at the Expobar Levra and then I saw this machine and I bought it from 1st-Line back in October of '07. I read about it on Home-Barista and the reviews here. I found a demo and I ordered it on line and it shipped very quickly. It came in two huge boxes but there was water in the machine and the boxes were compromised by the wetness. I've used it daily since. It has made good espresso from day one. Very easy to use. This is the tank model. The tank is located at the back of the machine under a flip up lid and filling it via a funnel could be easier as I can't get a good look as in my setup, the machine sits to high, so it is easy to spill water. The water then drips down on the counter. The looks are spectacular with the corrugated stainless side and back and stainless front. This is a simple HX machine with a large boiler. I don't use the steam or water wands much but on newer machines they rotated 360 degrees.
From the beginning it made good coffee. Paired with a La Cimballi Cadet and good fresh beans it makes superior coffee. It heats up in a half hour. From then on it produces lots of steam and hot water. It does require a 20 amp circuit which I am lucky enough to have.
This machine was a demo and came with some scale build up. After 6 months of use the heating element burned out. I called First Line and after talking to a couple of guys there and trouble shooting the element they sent out a new one and I was able to replace it. However they didn't send directions, though they were on a web page. Taking off and replacing the body was a real pain with a number of different types of fasteners to remove and replace while compressing parts the body. However I was able to do so using the directions on the webpage, even though I'm a mechanical boob. Good service from 1st Line though they do have a bit of east coast attitude. Not bad but you have to understand where they are from.
The buying experience was painless and it shipped very quickly. I talked to a Jim and someone else before I bought and they were helpful. The web page worked well and they have been helpful with the only problem I've had with the machine.
Three Month Followup
Still making great coffee. I'm very happy with the purchase. My only complaint is that it is difficult to access the interior. Outside of that it is a great machine.