So I understand that most people here are real coffeegeeks and fear no
effort on there quest to the perfect cup of espresso.
But with this machine, even without digital scales, thermometers, stopwatches(or $3000 chronometers, for that matter),fancy tamper, temperature surfing, changing thermostats, etc, you can produce a good espresso any time, certainly better than what you get served in NY, (if you read the article in the NYTimes you also know that this is not all too hard).
I used to own a Faema Amica II, which kind of looks better but was never able to make consistent espresso and had some other flaws, like small portafilter , smaller boiler and, very annoying, a steamvalve that was operated by a lever and often either did not open or did not close tight, so those might things to look for when byuing a machine.
In my experience the Silvia works best when heated up well so i turn it on rigt after i fall out of bed and by the time I am ready the machine is too, I also leave it on quite a bit, not 24/7 but certainly many hours at a time and had no problems so far, at the contrary i believe, if it is on long the temperature is more stable.
What really - as most people point out - makes a huge difference is a grinder. When i moved to the States 2 years ago i first started without and only one place i tried provided an acceptable grind; most places just suck. I also tried pods with an adapter to put in the portafilter, but was not particular impressed with that.
Now, where i have a grinder, the innova, i find myself much more often drink an espresso, rather than a latte, which i used to favor.
Steaming is easy with the Silvia and it has enough steam to quickly heat(foam) milk for two large lattes, takes about 30 sec to heat up and another 30-40 for the steaming. However, there is a lot of water in the pipes, that needs to be drained first.
Overall, I believe that this is a very capable home machine, reasonably priced, that makes good espresso without much fuzz, and it should satisfy most peoples needs.