For one, this thing heats up fast! It holds a good amount of water. Heavy. The drip tray is Cool! Easy to use.
Negative Product Points
Drippy while heating. (but useful for a little preheating) The infamous Portafilter Sneeze. Teensy filter basket. The cup warmer's more of a lukewarm tray.
I think this makes for a good starter or budget machine, I'm using it with a Maestro grinder, and didn't have much trouble at all getting it to produce good espresso. (In my uneducated opinion) It does cool off as quick as it warms up, so I've been starting my shots right after the thermostat light pops on, and going for 20-25 seconds. Doesn't bother me, yet, it's just "character". I like the tray, it sits low enough for a coffee cup, and flips over to sit high enough for a demitasse. I don't think it has the style or stability of a Sylvia, but keep in mind I did cheap out and get the white-with-green-buttons model, maybe a little Mr. Coffee-esque to some. Okay, that doesn't affect stability, but my wife likes the quick heatup. Speaking of heatup, this thing drips out an ounce or so of water as it heats! Unexpected... But I make use of it by cracking the steam/water valve and setting my cup under it, for a head start on general preheating. Sometimes, however, it can pump more water into the filter basket after a shot, causing a semiflooded puck, or a (very) small slightly messy sneeze. (more like *pfft*) I'm happy with it, but honestly, if I had the money for a Livia 90, well... Not a beginner machine, but you're only a beginner once!
Good experience, 1st-line had it on the truck the next day, and wrapped in some Serious two layer cardboard.
Three Month Followup
A short note... I'll try! The espresso just keeps getting better, with experience. Much is due to roasting experience, but learning to grind, tamp, etc. is needed to extract what's been roasted. I remember reading that the SL-70 brew temp can be a little cold, and also a way to adjust the temp, per each shot. I click on the steam switch, for 6 to 10 seconds, before each shot, the time depending on the specific coffee, humidity, planetary alignment, etc. This has had the effect of reducing sourness in the espresso, and I've been able to take advantage of this and roast some beans a little lighter and preserve more of the original character in the shot. I know I've gone too hot if it's bitter, so it's easy to pinpoint the correct temp. I've also had the opportunity to see the inside of the machine, as the water line which attaches where the reservoir plugs in came loose. The cold lines are clamped down with zip ties, nothing wrong with that, but one was loose. I've never heard of this happening to anyone else. I have heard of the excellent customer service with this product and should have sent it in, but I'm the DIY type, and dread any double ristretto absence! Having been there, done that, I'll comment that it's an excellent design, very simple. There is absolutely no plumbing to the head, it's the bottom of the boiler.