Another update was published 14 Sep 2020 (member content) and appears in the recent magazine.
I have an ongoing curiosity how Choice categorises manual and semi-auto machines. I approached @BrendanMays after the prior test publication with my input, yet my methodology has to be in error or Choice is just not happy to correct/change.
My understanding is a semi-auto is differentiated by programmed dispensing buttons for single and double shots; most semi-autos can also be programmed for amounts of water, temperatures, and so on. Put on the portafilter and press a 1 or 2 cup button and wait while it brews or dispenses hot water. Steam is on/off. There is usually a ‘manual’ button in addition that starts and stop water flow.
Manual machines only have on/off switches for functions, not auto anything nor metering of water. Power on, the boiler ‘lights’. Water switch on, espresso flows. Water switch off espresso stops flowing. Same with steam/hot water.
Notable curiosities include the Sunbeam EM5300 that is shown as a manual, yet it is a virtual clone of the semi-auto Breville870, as is another Breville and a Delonghi for example.
The Breville 870 (listed correctly as semi-auto by my categorisation)
The Breville 878, essentially an 870 with a LCD panel is categorised as manual
The Sunbeam EM5300 is also listed as a manual yet it is programmable as are the Brevilles above.
The Delonghi is also listed as a manual and is similarly programmable to the above.
Then the Gaggia Classic, no automated anything, just on/off switches, is a manual to me but is listed as a semi-auto. @Liffet also referenced it as a semi-auto as do a few sales web sites, but Gaggia shows it as manual on their products page, as per my expectation.
Does it matter to consumers? Maybe not, but I would appreciate an insight to how the seemingly similar products using those shown above as examples, have been categorised as they have been.