From my experience, the non-solenoid, plastic bodied Gaggias are very good machines for the money - far better than any Saeco - and the recon models seem like a steal. The Carezza is my pick of the recons as the cheaper Gran has a cheap Al PF (as does the metal bodied Cubika) while the more expensive Evolution has push buttons that are more likely to fail (the ones on the Baby seem prone to this) compared to the simpler rocker switches on the Carezza. The Al boiler of the Gaggias can be a problem in ares with acidic water but I took mine apart after using it for 18 months and there was no trace of corrosion - caveat: I always use a Brita filter to fill my Gaggia. The boiler is rather small (but still bigger than a Saeco) but it makes the machine cycle very quickly so if you only normally make a couple of drinks at a time, it is an advantage.
For new machines, the Imats are great value if you think you really need the 3 way solenoid valve and have a larger brass boiler so it is a better machine if you are often making more than 4 lattes at a time or you know your water is acidic.
Alan Frew has an excellent article on home machines on his site. Also, I sent someone to see Alan for an Imat and Alan was more than helpful, spending an hour to go over the machine and to make sure they got the model that suited them best (Combi since they intend to use it sometimes in a caravan).
A good grinder is essential and the MDFs on aBay seem good value. Them or a Lux are the minimum in my book.