Saeco Vienna Superauto, Saeco/Starbucks Italia Digital Superauto, LaPavoni Pistn
Looks nice outside, cheap parts inside, machine-specific parts are not available. All beauty, with no brawn.
Positive Product Points
Pretty, Exterior is of good materials, Exterior is durable, Convenience of pods, easy to open up and repair for do it yourselfer.
Negative Product Points
Internals have a lot of plastic fittings, aluminum boiler (has been upgraded in newer models), repair service is horrible, nonexistence of replacement parts (have to send in for repair).
This review is based on a machine that died after three and a half years of use, and has been sitting in my garage, for the last three years. Although it's a totally different machine, for comparison purposes I'll be comparing the X1 to my Saeco superautomatic, since they cost around the same price (on sale), and also becaue I've opened up, and worked on both. X1 looked nice on my counter, but I was a little surprised when I opened it up for the first time. After about a year and a half of daily use (2-4 shots a day), the pump would make noise, but no water was passing through the machine. I took the lid off for the purpose of replacing the pump. First surprise was the Ulka pump in the X1 is the cheaper model with a plastic shaft. I've replaced the pump on my Saeco Superautomatic (after five years of daily use; 10-15 shots a day), and the Saeco has a similar Ulka pump except with a brass shaft. Second surprise on the X1 is that the fitting connecting the hoses to the pump is plastic. On my Saeco, the similar-purposed fitting is brass. Also, on my second gen (first gen?) X1, the boiler is aluminum. On the Saeco, the boilder is stainless steel.
Parts specific to the X1 are not available, and you have to send the whole machine to New York for any minor issue. The Saeco, on the other hand, has a variety of sources for parts. I got the X1 about seven years ago for home use, and after a pump replacement about a year and a half in, the boiler was shot after a total of three and a half years of use. My Saeco superautomatic that I use farily heavily at my office was purchased around five years ago, and after a pump replacement this year, it is still going strong like new. Hopefully, the newer X1s have better internals because the model I have has the parts of a $250 machine, and the premium in cost is probably based on it's esthetics and looks. After discussions with many friends who love espresso, I'll be sticking with Saeco and Rancillo. For now, I'm thrilled with my Saeco superautomatic, and would buy a similar replacement in a heartbeat! I can't foresee purchasing/wasting money on a Francis/Illy machine again.