The Gaggia line of inexpensive espresso makers are about as good as it gets at this end of the automated espresso market. They require more work on the part of the user and don't have presets for multiple users so that every family member can get their favorite with a single touch, but they can remember how you like your coffee settings from one drink to another. The Gaggia Anima is a bit different from other automated espresso makers in that it doesn't heat and froth your milk internally, but has a built-in frothing wand that you insert into a cup that you've already put milk in and froths it directly. Then you put the cup (or two cups) under the espresso spout and the Anima will do a neat job of inserting a layer of espresso into the middle of the pre-frothed milk.
The drink is programmed from six buttons around an illuminated screen, which will give you feedback on exactly what the buttons are doing. Those buttons will let you choose between an espresso and a long espresso, and if you hold them down they'll dispense espresso until you hit the stop button and the anima will remember how much hot beverage you want. The spout is adjustable for the height of your cup and can handle two cups or one. The dregs tray can be periodically removed and cleaned, as can the brew unit itself and the drip tray. Higher end machines will do more of this work for you, with self-rinsing spouts and self-cleaning brew units, but that's a privilege that you pay for. The Anima pre-infuses the beans with water before the brewing begins, which maximizes both the flavor and the aroma.
Compare this to Gaggia's similarly priced Syncrony Logic RS to determine which has the features you like best. And to find out what you're missing from the more expensive machines, look at the Jura Impressa F7 and the Miele CM6310. Or, to get a baseline on everything an automated espresso maker can possibly do, check out the sky-high Jura Giga W3 Professional.
It is an impressive espresso maker. I like the degrees of freedom to adjust the espresso shots. . .
The machine is fantastic. Making an espresso involves pressing a couple of buttons and outcome is really good, better than most baristas make.
The Gaggia Anima is a great choice. You get excellent espresso from it and, with a little practice, great milk-based drinks.
This machine brews a nice hot cup of coffee. Easy to use and like the size compared to some of the other models.