If you're willing to practice, this machine can make wonderful espresso with ease.
Positive Product Points
Good machine, makes wonderful espresso, not hard to use at all
Negative Product Points
Takes a bit of learning, but not that much.
I received this as an anniversary present and have been quite happy as I travel down the road of lever espresso machines. Had thought of getting a lever before but actually hesitated as a La Pavoni Pro (the La Pavoni version of this machine) costs about as much as a good HX machine (a bit less but not much). When WLL had these for $449 I convinced my wife this was a good buy (and she decided to give it to me!). Have no regrets. Takes a bit of practice, but not really much (at least for me). I've found for a couple of doubles in the morning it makes for GREAT Americanos! In the evening, I usually make a large cappa and again, it works great! You have to pay attention to details... Grind, Tamp and, the big one for this machine, consistent pressure as you pull the lever, but, I've not had any isuses with that.
Good grinder (I use the Le'Lit PL53), decent tamp (get a 51mm tamper for this) and good water and you're good to go!
Whole Latte Love had these for a while @ $449, they appear to be gone now. Initial purchase was fine, but post-sales support could be better. I had one that blew a heating element about 2 weeks after it arrived and it took a while to get it replaced (and they had a couple of mis-steps in the process of replacing the system).