Summary: This espresso machine has served me well for over 4 years now. It can create amazing microfoam and a thick rich crema. The thing I didn't know when I bought this machine is that achieving a good creme with any espresso machine has more to do with the grinder than the espresso machine. Since the pressure of the water going through the portafilter is a constant the only variable you can control to get a good shot is how fine the coffee grinds are.
Summary: I moved from a Mr. Coffee espresso machine to this and the difference is night and day. The Mr. Coffee espresso machine cost about $70 but the coffee it made tasted more like coffee colored water than actual coffee. The coffee made from the Gaggia is excellent. Better than the stuff I get from some coffee shops. That being said there are a few reasons why I gave this a 4 over a 5. First I hate the steam wand.
Summary: Using ground espresso doesn't work very well in this machine. You pretty much have to buy pre-packed espresso envelopes to use with it. The steamer is adequate, but not great. Needs more oomph.
Summary: I have owned Gaggia espresso machines for over 25 years, and this is by far the best of the low priced ones I have had so far. I cannot comment on the warrantee and technical support by Gaggia, as I never needed it, but I can comment on the quality of the machine [also, I am not sure why the buyers whose machine failed in a week or two did not return it to amazon for an exchange]. I found the construction to be solid. The machine is a little noisy.
Summary: Unit works ok. Bought it for Christmas in Dec 2012. Steaming system has a lot to be desired. Sometimes it produces steam and sometimes it doesn't. You have to open the steam valve and leave it that way for a few minutes after the unit heats up. Sometimes you have to push the water button (forcing hot water through the steam wand) before you get good frothing steam to flow. Sometimes it produces great steam then stops about halfway through the frothing process.
Summary: After 13 months of use the heating element just died. When looking on-line on the Gaggia web site the only contact information they have is a phone number in Italy open 3 hours 3 days a week. During the year of use (I always find it interesting that reviews are given usually when the product is new)I had to repeatly prime and clean the steam line. Also for some reason the machine pulled vacuum and pulled grinds back up into the filter.
Summary: This machine is overpriced and under-built. It does literally fall apart, as others have noted. The screws loosen out of the nozzle fixture and really do just fall into your cup one morning. I had to find a special tool to put them back in. After 3 months use, the valve for the frother will not shut off completely and so it dribbles hot water all over the counter with each use. When making coffee, it sounds like a '68 VW with a hole in the muffler.