I bought this on a whim when I saw it on sale at Kmart. I am so glad I did. At first, I used the sampler pack of soda flavors that came with the machine according to the instructions. Surprisingly, yes, they really do taste like the real thing. Then, I started to do some experimenting, and that is when I decided this was well worth the money. If you are trying to cut back on your sugar intake (and not a fan of the artificial sweeteners), you can just use less of the syrup. It really doesn't change the flavor much. Also you can flavor your own soda with fruit juice or fruit juice concentrate. Plain carbonated water can be used as club soda or tonic for mixed drinks. Want more carbonation? Just push the button an extra time or two. Basically you decide what your soda will taste like, and that is pretty cool. As far as the machine itself, I have been using it for six months (about twice a day) and have had no problems with the quality of the construction. Yes, it is plastic, but it holding up well. One caution, the water bottle screws on. If not attached properly, there is not a tight seal and the co2 will not carbonate the water. A younger child or someone with arthritis could have trouble holding the bottle at the right angle and turning it simultaneously. Also, the co2 cartridges are expensive and oddly hard to find. If you like kitchen gadgets (or are tired of carrying soda bottles up three flights of stairs), this one is worth it.