I did quite a bit of research before making a decision, and my experience since then has done nothing but confirm that this is the right machine for our home. First, I like coffee that tastes like something. Second, I like things that work and have the quality build to keep on working. Our last machine got recycled after maybe 15 years of service because parts were no longer available. The catch is that when we needed a repair only 7 years in, we were told that many parts weren't available then either. We could only achieve a fix using used parts.
Re quality of design and build: this is a low tech machine built like a tank! The parts are said to be the same ones used in Rancilio's professional machines. Just pick up the portafilter, and you can feel the weight and the way it holds the heat and this becomes easy to believe. To take off the plastic protective film, I ended up taking a peek inside, and boy everything looks simple, accessible, and solid in there. So the build quality is a big check. The fact that there are units out there decades old, and that the parts should remain available for decades to come (barring catastrophes that are always possible), and I am delighted just to see and touch the unit.
Re the coffee: This is a solid but basic no-frills machine. It is massive, (not overly large, - just heavy because there is a lot of metal in there), and the temperature controls are simple high limit switches rather than digital processors. You grind the coffee yourself, tamp it yourself, and pay attention to getting the temp right yourself. (I.e, draw out enough water for the heating light to come on, and then wait for it to go off before drawing your shot. This is not a big deal!) How well you make the coffee using this machine will make obvious differences in flavour and finish. That being said, I've even found my 'mistakes' to be quite drinkable. And the times I get the grind and tamp right, and the pour comes out perfectly, - well it sure makes me lose interest in going out to spend money on a lesser coffee.
Bottom line: If you are willing to put in the effort and time, this is a classy machine that should last a lifetime and turn out great coffee. (& if you aren’t, get something more automatic!)
Bottom line re value: My research ahead of time convinced me to spend about double what I had originally intended, and my experience afterwards leads me to have absolutely "0" regrets; - only daily pleasure! For me, it is very much worth it!