-Well-built, reliable, easy-to-clean, fairly easy-to-operate -Makes excellent espresso with the right coffee and grind -Can make pourable microfoam with a bit of care and practice -Attractive (and despite some comments to the contrary, I find the clock is reliable, attractive and useful) -Little problem with the coffee 'sneeze' given 30 seconds or so wait
Negative Product Points
-Finicky. I find that I get quite excellent results with George Howell coffee, ground at somewhere around 2 on my Virtuoso but that is about it. -Almost too slow for company -Warming tray lacks oomph -Just a bit difficult to refill the water
The machine is quite well build and well designed. It is heavy, easy to clean, hard to scratch, and attractive. I have had absolutely no problem with the clock, contrary to some others' experiences, and it functions quite well for timing shots. I am hardly an espresso expert, but with the right coffee and grind, I have had some of the best coffee of my life with this relatively modest machine. George Howell, in particular, seems to work very very well with it. Beautiful crema. In fact with the right Howell coffee it seems to pour out nothing but tiger-striped crema timed @ 25 seconds (with the clock on the front). I have not tried the optional pod feature, but overall I am very happy with my purchase. If I was putting plain Green Mountain Coffee, or Peet's, through it I would not be so satisfied however. I have had trouble with most other coffees, which seem to come out (on average) watery and bitter... The machine is fairly easy to use, but you have to be into it, and the ritual, of making espresso, otherwise I would suggest something more automatic.
At the refurbished price (roughly half of list) this is a very solid purchase, and easy to use with the right coffee. This may not be a geek favorite, but I am quite happy with my selection.
I bought a refurbished unit on Ebay for about 300 dollars, it arrived in about 2 days, and for all intents and purposes it functions and appears "as new." It has no scratches or cosmetic blemishes. The refurb company was a pleasure to deal with. I would certainly go this route and save the money.