Well I finally took the plunge. After researching espresso sites and epinions.com I decided to purchase the saeco Italia from Starbucks. (you can find it cheaper on ebay)
I can't say enough good things about this espresso maker. I grinds the beans, tamps the grinds, brews the espresso and empties the grounds automatically. The top has a warming tray to heat cups and/or keep the espresso warm while you steam milk. The steaming wand is very powerful and easy.
It is calibrated to the starbucks specifications for the grind.
I am amazed that I can make starbucks quality lattes at home. I have also found the starbucks support people to be very helpful. I had a little problem with my first machine and they had me return it to their store for a replacement. The staff even showed me how to steam the milk.