We looked closely at a LOT of machines before buying and have no regrets. I'd do it again!
Positive Product Points
Great value. This machine looks impressive and works equally well. Consistent temperature and pressure. It consistently pulls great shots -- with lots of frothy crema.
Negative Product Points
So far, I have found nothing I dislike about it.
Can I really score this machine so high in every category? YES I CAN! It's extremely well built (I know, I took it apart), looks very attractive, works great, and yet costs well below the $1500 range. I wouldn't have expected a machine at this price to be this good.
The Millenium body really is stainless steel, it looks great in the kitchen and there's nothing "cheap" about it's construction. The black steam & water knobs as well as the porta-filter handle are bakelite. The machine does get hot and the Faema e61 brew-group is exposed to the touch... you can burn yourself on this. Beware if this machine is used in a home with small children who like to touch "bright shiney things". The cup-warmer puts out plenty of heat to keep your espresso & latte mugs nice & toasty warm.
The machine includes two porta-filters, one single-shot, one double-shot. It also includes the obligatory plastic tamper. The tamper is not very nice, but that's not why you're buying the machine anyway. Throw it away and use a real tamper.
Steamer is well designed. It puts out a nice steam volume without overdoing it (and I've seen machines with oversized steam nozzles which will heat too fast and burn the milk if you aren't careful). The steam and hot water pivot up & down, there's no problem getting the milk pitcher underneath (unlike, for example, the Livia 90). The boiler has great capacity and froths up even my largest 20oz. milk pitcher without needing a break to regenerate heat and pressure, and still can go immediately to pull shots without a break.
I've had this machine for just under a year now. So far no operating problems to report.
There's a plumb-in kit which can be aquired for it (not included), which I opted to get, so this machine actually runs off my house water supply (no filling). Without the kit, there's a large capacity water tank (enough to keep the average home user going a few days between refills -- machine will turn off automatically if tank gets too low).
The pump isn't too noisey -- it's mounted on rubber bushings to dampen any vibration-related noise. I opened the machine to install the plumb-in kit and discovered that the orientation of a few parts can be adjusted -- at one point I had a piece of metal shielding a bit too close to the pump (my fault), which did cause a loud vibration, but alas it was easy to fix.
The plumb-in kit does not come with good instructions -- so it helps to be a little mechanically and electrically minded. It's not difficult to do assuming you have some of these basic skills.
TMR Inc. provided very nice, personal service. They were always responsive and happy to answer all of our many questions. We selected this dealer over others because they were more responsive and we felt we'd get better service in the long term.