Hi Salmon, and welcome to CoffeeSnobs.
Pity that he didnt like the look of the Silvia, cos she can make some pretty awesome coffee, for the money.
Apparently the Expobar Semi Auto is a very good machine for the money, some of the site sponsors can help you out with more on that one, and Im pretty sure they would recommend the semi auto is better for home use.
The Sunbeam mark 2 is expected to be a very competent machine, and many are reporting being able to make great coffee with the current model, although there is some concerns about reliability/build issues, (and while Sunbeam have been very good at servicing issues, its surely better if you dont have to go without the machine while its being fixed). I think also Silvia and Expobar should always steam a bit faster than the uprated thermoblocks, and while the twin thermoblock arrangement enables you to theoretically brew and steam at same time, if you are paying attenion to pulling your shot/s you wont be steaming at the same time, but you can do it straight after, as with the Expobar which should be ready to go straight away also, (and I dont mind the short wait for Silvia to get to steam temp).
Gaggias use aluminium boilers and they are about half the size of the Silvia boiler so probably better they didnt impress you anyway. Pity about the poor shot from the classic, apparently it can do very nice shots, but steam capacity is a bit limited.
A good grinder is an absolute necessity, and for home use, doserless is the most preferred way. The doser versions are less messy, but apparently more fiddly to clean out, and need to be cleaned out frequently at home. Doserless versions will make a bit more mess, but dont need as much cleaning of the unit itself (and I dont find it that much trouble to wipe the grinder and bench down when I have finished).
Fresh coffee beans are the most important ingredient. Have you thought about roasting your own? Theres plenty of good advice on this site too help you get started. Otherwise find a good local roaster if you havent already done so.
Hope this is of some help,