Excellent machine, though the aluminum boiler on mine corroded significantly
Positive Product Points
This machine has been a real workhorse for more than eight years. It produces an espresso that easily rivals what I have had commercially both in the Northwest (which is unexpectedly coffee heaven -- ask me about my local roaster, Sivetz) and in Toronto, where I worked during my student years in a top of the line espresso bar run by Hungarians and frequented by Italians (need I say more). The pump has died periodically, but it has been easy to replace for about $50 or so, if you are handy with a screwdriver and have a reasonable sense of caution. Its steamer works well enough, once you lose the "perfect froth" accessory, assuming you've learned how to do it the old fashioned way, which does, in fact, require a little skill. The filter holder on this one is heavy plated brass and full size, which is a major bonus over the toy filters on many other machines.
Negative Product Points
The only real problem with this machine that I have had is with its aluminum boiler unit. Maybe its my well water, though it goes through a reverse-osmosis filter that takes out almost everything, but the inside of the boiler is badly pitted. Maybe it's just the quality of the aluminum, which does seem pretty soft. But where has all that pitted aluminum gone? Hopefully not into early Alzheimer's for me. The pump has died again, and the rugged metal body is now getting rusted, so I'm looking for a new machine with a less corrosible boiler and maybe a stainless steel body, but this has been a good machine (and if you don't disassemble the boiler, you'll never know!).
I think this machine is still available in many permutations from $2-400. But for my water problem, I'd buy it again. If you plan to have it for as many years as I have and are thinking that the stainless steel model will avoid the rust problems (caused by little leaks now and then), check to see that the plate the filter holder mounts to is stainless steel as well, and not just the outer body panel (as on the Starbuck's stainless model).