At the factory refurb price, this thing is great, at full retail, I'd be very hesitant, but it's such eye candy too.
Positive Product Points
Fantastic looks, heavy tank like construction, 58mm heavy PF, room to work, Gaggia internals, two boilers and no waiting between steaming and brewing. The manual is great, and 6 mo. refurb warranty is great. At $199.00 factory refurb is a steal, and shipping was only $12.00 from www.shopkitchenaid.com.
Negative Product Points
Switches feel a little cheap and fragile, other than that this thing rocks.
Temp stability seems great, espresso is equal to my Gaggia Baby D and WAY better than Breville Cafe Roma or Krups Nuvo.
I've had mine going for a week now and I'm very pleased. Yes the button/controls feel a little cheap compared to the rest of the machine, but other than that I'm quite pleased. Steaming is good, not great but plenty adequate for my use, esp using the tricks for starting the steam cycle, pausing, then restarting, then also letting some more water into the small steaming boiler by pressing the hot water button occasionally for a few seconds.
Gaggia parts are very easy to come by if the insides go, and that's all it is inside.
The forums on the kitchenaid website have many insightful postings on living with this machine, it has a few quirks that are easily delt with.
Did I mention the price? $199 for a factory refurb? I could part it out for more than that! At $500 or more, different story on customer satisfaction. I bought mine at the shopkitchenaid.com website. Weekly special. $12 for shipping is a great deal too, good experience thus far.
Three Month Followup
Same as above....
One Year Followup
After 1 year with "Big Red" ...... it still performs consistantly. It's not for everyone, as a couple of the socket head cap screws holding the brew head on came loose (easily tightened) and steaming is an art (you have to fill it by pushing the hot water button, then watch the gage and when the temp is too low you have to wait a bit between steaming sessions). It's not turn key, but for $199 factor refurb, it rocks. Just don't pay $500 to $800 for this and you'll be happy.