Unless I was loaded with dough, I don't think I'd buy this machine new. I would though get it second hand in a hearbeat. I would look at the Rancilio S series if I had to buy new.
Positive Product Points
She's a tank. Extremely well built. All the parts are easily serviceable. Makes incredible tasting Espresso and steams milk in seconds.
Negative Product Points
It's a commercial machine so you have to treat it like a baby. It requires lots of cleaning, backflushing, descaling etc. Ok, maybe not EXACTLY like a baby, but you know what I mean.
Thanks to a local altie (alt.coffee) I picked up this Cimbali Junior (3 years old, only used as a demo) at an Auction for a song and a dance.
The machine weighs 80lbs, has a 2.5liter boiler a commercial sized group head, 4 liter resevoir, takes up most of my kitchen and sounds like the Space Shuttle taking off when it brews a shot. Is your girlfriend sleeping too long? Do you need for her to get out of bed so you can head out? Just hit the brew switch. ;)
But, it makes incredible tasting espresso with little to no work. I only have to run a little bit of water out the group if I have left it sitting for a while. No temp surfing required.
The only variables I need to worry about are tamp and grind and I must say, one needn't worry too much about those variables either because even shots that are too long or too short still taste quite good.
Getting a God Shot comes fairly often too. I find with this machine I don't really need to time my shots, I just need to look at them. If it flows fairly well out the spout I only need to wait for it to change colour and then I'm done. That almost always gets me a great shot.
The machine though does require lots of work. Mine was second hand and I needed to descale, clean, replace group gasket, soak everything in Puly, fix leaky vacuum breaker, fix leaky solenoid etc. But given that this machine is $2500USD new, and parts cost me a total of $70USD, and the machine cost me but a song and a dance, I think I did quite well.
We got it at an auction. It required hauling it out of some bankrupt Cimbali dealer and taking it home. Fairly painless.