Welcome, from a newbie. I bought my Silvia / Rocky combo mid November. I can honestly say I still havent quite got the hang of it yet. I can produce an adequate shot, though the milk frothing leaves a lot to be desired. If you dont mind practicing (using a lot of beans to get the grind right, pour a shot and tip it out because it looks like strong tea etc) then go with the machine that requires more input. Otherwise maybe go with something a little more automated.
I went with the Silvia because I read up on the different types of machines available and it is truly the best value for money, and I like to have lots of input. (Probably half my trouble). I like it because its built out of brass, heaviest in its class, looks good, can be repaired in Sydney or Melbourne –easily, and there are a lot of other users out there who don’t mind helping with advice. Like this forum.
I digress. Have a look at the other threads of discussions and also at the following site. Its a pearla ;D
There isnt much this guy doesnt know. Read the articles as well, very informative.
My biggest tip as a newbie, is wherever you buy it from, get them to show you how to use it. You could probably get a better deal from the Internet, but they cant show you what to do. If I had my time again, I would have spent the extra 100 bucks and bought it from the Coffee Company in Melbourne. The guys there were really helpful, but the minister for funds and warfare said the extra 100 in her pocket was an extra 100 in her pocket!! ;)
Hope that helped.