Other machine I'd add to this thread is a La Pavoni Europiccola (or other lever La Pavoni??)
Yes, fully manual piston-lever machines offer many advantages, including the ability to produce an excellent shot. They are simpler machines, as they don't have as many parts that are the most prone to breakdowns (like pumps), and therefore can last for a very long time, as well as being fairly cheap for what they are. All you see are just the few very high quality machined parts, and are relatively small in size, making it suitable for most kitchens. They also look very cool, and can add a certain eye candy/status symbol factor in your kitchen, as well as giving the impression you have some sort of "expertise". They also give a higher sense of accomplishement and "artisan" quality, because it's all so manual. BUT
....they have a very steep learning curve, and only recommended to those willing to invest the needed dedication to master it properly. Being able to manually pull exactly
the right pressure and timing required to extract an excellent shot every time is not easy, as opposed to a high quality semi-automatic/automatic machine. Even top barristas or espresso enthusiasts don't bother with manual lever machines. Although there are spring-loaded versions which "cheat" a bit because it does the work of consistent pushing. If your budget only allows for no more than $500 on a machine, and you're dedicated...go for it.