I have been using Nespresso pods pretty much since they were released in Australia so that is a heck of a long time. Dont know about cheap but the pods are pretty darn good. Unfortunately, their mainstream machines are not really geared to quality-usually only lasts 2-3 years before problems. In their coffee I dont think its chemicals but they may inject the pods with an inert gas to preserve shelflife.
I switched from the "darkside" (or maybe to the darkside :P) several months ago and went with an E61 machine and freshly ground beans. After a very steep learning curve, lots of mess and awful tasting coffee - I am glad I made the switch. Just no comparison. Like comparing cask wine to fine wine. Nespresso which I still have in the office tastes very bland by comparison.
That is also why I made the switch. I could no longer taste what I was drinking.
However, if you have a bad day you can make coffee much worse than a Nespresso. If you have a good day then there is no comparison in the cup. ;D