Great machine if you care about convenience and ease-of-use. Not so great if you're after a fine shot.
Positive Product Points
Easy to use, good steam, fast, decent crema, truly super-automatic.
Negative Product Points
Coarse grind, essentially non-variable dosing, mediocre espresso, some internal design and reliability issues.
This is a good machine for those who want a quick, easy latte before work. The machine produces good steam. The crema is decent, but underextracted. The extraction time is very short - only 5 seconds after pre-brew for a small shot. The grind on my machine is too coarse and the tamper is too weak to produce strong, flavorful espresso. Some types of coffee (like an Indian Sitara I bought recently) will choke the tamper. The machine tends to make painful noises during the tamping and extraction processes. The extraction noises die down after descaling and cleaning. The tamping noises can be reduced by using a darker, dryer roast. I find that the grind and dosing controls have little dynamic range. In the small cup, high-dose is hard to distinguish from low-dose. All the grind levels are too coarse. From an automated design standpoint, this is understandable. A fine grind or a large dose could clog a super-automatic machine. But when you've had a properly ground shot through a solid performer like a Rancilio Silvia, it's hard to enjoy a small cup from the Saeco Magic.
There is a reliability issue as well: the power supply is located directly under the water tank. Dripping water from the tank can trickle into the machine through the screw holes, shorting out the power supply. I disassemble the machine about once a year to replace the hard-to-reach fuse. After I eventually diagnosed the problem, I found a box of compatible slow-blow fuses at an electric supply store.
We bought the Saeco Magic at close-out pricing from a department store. So, we got no support to speak of from the store. Servicing requires shipping the unit to MD. Saeco servicing in the US is expensive if you can't fix the machine yourself. A one-year warranty and poor customer service on such an expensive piece of hardware is not very satisfying.
Three Month Followup
One Year Followup
Though I was a little critical of my Saeco Magic Deluxe a year ago, I have to say that it is chugging along. However, the latest problem has been difficult to repair: low steam pressure. The problem is caused by steam leaks at the valves and fittings inside the machine. I have not been able to tighten those fittings myself. I estimate that approximately 25% of the steam does not exit the steam wand. Needless to say, the other problems (grind quality, rapid extraction) continue. Because I would like to pull a better shot and am irritated now with the steam pressure, I would not buy this machine again. But for a casual latte drinker who wants a fast, easy-to-use super-automatic, this may be a good choice.