If we were talking stereos then these steam machines are ghetto blasters. Some people are happy with ghetto blasters while others are not satisfied with a system that costs less than several thousand dollars. The point being... what is your level of interest in espresso? That is what determines whether you will be happy with this machine. Like ALL steam machines... these cannot brew real, smooth espresso BUT can be used to mimic the quality of espresso you will usually get in a restaurant. That sounds good but face it... the really good stuff can usually only be had at home on a good quality pump machine. If you don't have much money, won't be making espresso very often, or your level of interest is minimal and have never had truly great espresso , then a steam machine will be fine. That being said, they are all basically the same. They will all break. If you use the machine daily then it will break at least once while under warranty. If you use it infrequently, then it will break after the warranty is over. This machine works better when brewing a double shot rather than the single or quadruple amount that the machine lets you brew. If you use good, fresh beans, then you can get some creme (very little) and it will not last for very long. The espresso will always be bitter. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. It's that usual licking an ashtray taste... but it's a taste you often get at restaurants that have expensive espresso machines that are not properly cleaned or properly used - typical. Tamping helps but because these machines don't have much pressure to push the water through the grinds then anything other than very light tamping will cause either 1) a strongly bitter brew, or 2) a single drain hole for the water pushed through the puck that yeilds a very weak tasting shot.
IF however, you are using your espresso shots in a cappuccino with sugar and/or whipped cream then you can cover up the taste enough to fake it. I did and my friends, my wife and I really enjoyed my cappuccinos. So all in all, if you can't afford much or don't want to pay much, then a steam machine like this will be good enough... just pick the one that's on sale or you like the look of... their performance is all pretty similar... and they will all break down sooner or later... or sooner. When mine did after 8 months then I upgraded to a Starbucks Barista pump machine and was rewarded with smooth espresso with excellent creme. I indicated that I would buy this machine again but that is only from the prespective of IF I was wanting a cheap steam machine, then yes... but after experiencing good, smooth espresso from a pump driven machine I wouldn't be interested in a steam machine again. Still, I don't reget having had a cheap machine (2 actually... I also have a Toastess steam machine from Canadian Tire) to learn and practice on.