Great machine if you're into convenience and like the idea of switching between pods and traditional in an instance.
Positive Product Points
Versatile, mobile, easy-to-use, very stylish, and functional
Negative Product Points
small water container that slides out of the back and a steam arm that is too small
The much-maligned FrancisFrancis X1 is one of the whipping boys of espresso, although it has come a long way in the last few years, and now has solid componentry and much better reliability. While the equipment is much better and more reliable, the X1 still falls into a clear niche for people who prefer convenience and functionality over the pureness of the shot or the ability to do latte art. In short, if you primarily like Americanos and lattes without worrying about latte art, and aren't put searching for the god shot, then the X1 is probably going to be a great choice for an Espresso machine.
I paid $250 for mine on eBay. While I took a risk on a used machine, I've come out a big winner because this is way better than entry-level units. If you want, it can produce more-than passable espresso using its 57mm portafilter, while at the same time it also has a PF for pods. So you get the best of both worlds -- decent espresso and the convenience of pods, which I've really come to enjoy since I like Americanos and lattes. No fuss or messes to clean up. Pop in the pod and you're in business. It's even easy to make doubles by using two pods, although certainly more expensive than grinding your own. But the beauty of the X1 is that you get the choice. You can't say that about a Silvia, for example, or almost any other mainstream espresso machine.
The bottom line is that the X1 falls into the convenience category. If you're looking for the god shot, want to try latte art, and would rather have a finger cut off before using a pod, then this clearly isn't a machine to consider. Get a pid'd Silvia or an e-61 machine. But if you like convenience, and especially if you want a quick espresso or Americano without the clean-up, then this machine is absolutely great. Also, if you're price conscious, consider it's lower-cost X3 or X5 cousins, which have identical componentry. I lucked out with a used machine at $250. I'm not sure that I'd be as happy had I paid $650 for it.
Bought it on eBay, and had a very positive experience.
Three Month Followup
My opinion hasn't changed at all. The X1 is a great convenience machine. Just don;t expect the god shot.
One Year Followup
I've now been using the X1 for a year, and still have the same opinion. After playing around with grinding my own coffee, I soon found that pods were a lot less messy, and I ended up selling my Rocky and just sticking to pods. Hence, I wasn't even that surprised when I saw that Illy now only lets you choose a pod only machine (Trio) or the Classic model that requires grinding your coffee.
To repeat, the X1 is a super convenience machine if you're not after the god shot. It's ready to go in maybe 20 seconds (you run a shot of water first to heat up the element), and it makes highly passable espresso, but it excels at coffee with cream in it. Since it dispenses hot water, it's great for Americanos. The only issue I have is that my wife is still intimidated by the whole process, which has me wondering if I wouldn't be just as well served by a Keurig, although I'd miss the ability to make decent lattes, which the X1 does very well, although don't try to be an artist. Also, I believe it's less expensive cousins the X5 and X3, etc. are probably just as good, which makes the X1 a style statement. The bottom line is if you like a good convenience machine, this one or its lower-priced cousins work really well.