At the $2000 price point, this is an easy choice for optimal home espresso and cappuccino.
Positive Product Points
Yields very uniform results once variables are appropriately adjusted. Very few problems with channeling--perhaps the result of the 53mm. basket? Extremely dependable crema with high-quality, fresh coffee. Plumbed-in model worth the effort in installing--much more convenient.
Negative Product Points
Not as glamorous looking as the all-stainless machines. Some of the front-panel adjustments are not intuitive; save that manual for reference. I wonder whether the all-automatic controls will at some point give me problems, but so far--knock on wood--they work fine.
I was an early purchaser of the ECM Giotto (original model), and I was unable to find a good service provider when problems started to develop in the electrical system. It was repaired numerous times but never worked correctly for long, so I reluctantly decided it was time to move on. Had the pour-over Vivaldi been available when I bought mine, I probably would have purchased it to avoid the difficulties of plumbing in, but am I ever glad I bought the plumbed-in model. It's so much easier to use. The drain kit works for me--some leaking if I flush over-vigorously, but generally it's fine. The Vivaldi II is a delight to use--once you learn its routines, it is very easy to create cup after cup of exceptional espresso. The steam capabilities are fully adequate for steaming milk in a home environment. The 15-amp. model does cycle on and off repeatedly, but the brief waiting time is not a problem at all for home use.
Chris Coffee is as admirable a vendor as the many positive reviews on this site suggest. Chris and Mary are always available to answer questions, and they always follow up. Given my earlier experience with the Giotto, I wanted to make sure I was dealing with someone who really understood the machines he sold, and Chris is that person.
Three Month Followup
The machine continues to perform with great uniformity. My only ongoing problem: spent grounds are often a bit moist and don't eject as a clean puck. It must be a question of finding the right grind.