Excellent bang for the buck, great starter machine, but don't snug up the portafilter too tightly!
Positive Product Points
Bang for the buck? Most excellent. This appears to have fit and finish of the Starbucks Barista (wonder why) at half 2/3 the price. Large water tank, pressurized portafilter makes it easy to pull a decent shot right out of the box. Stainless Steel model (the one I bought) looks dynamite.
Negative Product Points
Some construction in surprising areas is flimsy, like the portafilter. The handle is hollow brittle plastic, compared to others that use a solid handle where the steel of the filter body goes through the handle.
The Aroma line appears to be a solid, basic, decently designed espresso maker that, as a newbie shot puller, I have found to make it very easy to pull a decent shot right out of the gate. Everything I wanted was there; solid pump pressure to allow finer grinds, generous water reservoir, basic but solid construction (for the most part), a pressurized portafilter that lets the steam pressure build to a good level before allowing the shot to start pouring, a heated top for keeping those shot glasses warm, and an easy to use steaming wand. Just enough controls to give you the basics (power, pump, steam boost) but no bling to speak of (if you're into that look elsewhere).
Calling it a Honda as another reviewer did is a little generous; personally I'd compare it to a Hyundai; good, but surprising shortcuts if you look far enough (cheaply made portafilter). If I could find a solid portafilter to replace the factory one I would say this guy would be unbeatable.
For the price, PICK THIS THING UP.
Purchased from Amazon. I got a dynamite deal ($230 USD for the stainless model), but the price has since shot up, possibly since this model was discreetly but notably featured on a popular Food Network show which selected this model over a number of others.