Having never used anything but a superautomatic espresso machine, I was slightly hesitant to venture into the world of Rancilio. Grinding, tamping, brewing, steaming- all processes which are vastly simplified for customers with super machines. However, for those espresso consumers who wish to perfect their own espresso shots through these methods, a semi-automatic machine is really the only way to go.
Don't be afraid to use these machines! I practiced and brewed on the Rancilio Silvia V3 and had a lot of fun. My shots were definitely not something you would get from an italian cafe, but with practice tamping, perfecting my grind size, and timing on the silvia, I know that I would enjoy a much better shot of espresso than could be brewed from any super automatic machine.
You hear that semi-automatic machines are more "difficult" to use. While they do require more work on the consumer's part, it is actually quite fun and not ad difficult as you might think. If you are in the market for a semi-automatic espresso machine, seriously consider the Rancilio Silvia V3. This machine has the high quality standards of the Rancilio name and comes with an extra 1 Year service contract (for a total of 2 years of service).
Check out the V3 today and happy brewing!