I bought this machine because a refurbished model was offered on Amazon.com for a smoking good deal. If you are seriously considering dropping $900 on a machine like this one, save your money and get something like a Rancilio Sylvia. I've never owned a Sylvia, but based on the commentaries and reviews I've read on that machine, it wold blow this machine away. That said, for the price I paid, I got a useable espresso machine, which, paired up with a good grinder, will make better epresso than any Starbucks I've visited.
The best part about the machine is its dual boiler design. This means that, once it gets up to temperature, there is no waiting between steaming and pulling shots. It will make decent espresso, and with a good frothing tip, some practice, and a lot of patience, will make a useable microfroth. Unless you really like being scalded by steam, forget about trying to get hot water out of the steam wand when the machine is up to temperature. If you really want an americano, a better bet would be to half fill a steaming pitcher with water and use the steam wand to heat it.
The second best feature is the heavy 58 millimeter portafilter. It gets hot and stays hot, ensuring a good espresso shot. Use it with a good tamper (heave the plastic toy that comes with the machine).
The stock steaming tip is barely useable. I read that a Saeco pannarello wand will fit this machine and will do a much better job. For a ten dollar investment, I got a steam tip that almost makes up for the anemic steaming power of this machine to make a good microfoam that, paired with a nice shot of espresso, makes a superior cappucino.
There are a lot of better espresso machines out there for the price of a new Kitchenaid. Overall, I am fairly satisfied with my purchase, but after nine months of ownership, I am ready for an upgrade to a machine that makes at least as good espresso as this one, and does a better job of steaming.