These things are normal at this price level: doesn't fill its own boiler (able to have hot boiler that has no water in it, you have to run water to make sure it is full). Temperature varies a lot - you have to get the boiler to turn on and wait a certain amount of time to be sure you are pulling your shot at the right temp. Some resort to installing PID temperature controllers (I did)!
The gang is all here, Silvia has made a lot of people very happy but.. You need to get a gaggia mdf or rocky or better grinder to go with her or you will have expensive bitter coffee! If you want to save get a cheaper gaggia and a mdf. I am very happy with Silvia, but didn't face the music about getting a grinder and so have made do with a cheap grinder tweaked to get fine grind, which died, then a maestro, which made grind full of powder that resulted in bitter flavor. Other than the thrill of turning it on without water in it on day 1 (figured that out in only a couple minutes thank goodness), I have been completely happy with Silvia, but was slow getting a good grinder, testing my temp surfing and getting good fresh beans.
Called around for discounts, but bought from 1st line for the basket and the steam tip. They got me with that steam tip!
Three Month Followup
It has been a year and a half since I got silvia, and became an endlessly posting endlessly newbie voice here and alt.coffee and at sweet maria's homeroast list. Lately I don't post so much. Possibly because I'm getting incredibly good espresso beans out of a popper, Kona mostly. I mail order from roasters with good reputations too. Having those things takes the focus of espresso off the machine to some degree, although Silvia's temp controller helps. I do like not having to surf, although my 'double surf' was pretty accurate. Also, having done the pressure mod (more than once, and sighing relief that the the sudden loosening of the nut didn't break anything) the pressure is set nicely now, don't need to think about it. I wish her boiler was bigger, or that she had active group heat. I also wish I had bought a machine from the start with a bigger boiler, active group heat and instant steam. As of this writing Amica is at $650, but I was too cheap to go for the Expobars when they were $599. I've already spent more than that PIDing, but the cost to sell used and buy new is higher of course. For new buyers, Silvia will continue to be tested in the market. I'd love to see Rancilio do the right thing and give their $500 niche in the market more than just a pretty face. Perhaps PID control of boiler and group is too much to ask, with the same small form factor? I think they ought to copy Andy Schecter (and pay him as well) and try dry active heat at the group with a rope heater, coil or whatever. I think some Chinese built machine is going to wipe the table on the market eventually. When Expobar was at $599, new buyers came to CG and were mildly told "if you spend a bit more etc". At $499 even naive new buyers won't be web researching long before they are told that such a machine is the one to buy. Right now, IMHO Silvia isn't, it is probably better to look to save money getting a gaggia or spend more for a E61 group machine. That said, I am reverent and grateful to those who helped me learn to make great espresso with her, and am well pleased with what's in the cup............:)