The Pico C is limited, though, and the initial $499 investment is pretty steep. For as little as $60 you can put together a beginner's brewing kit of your own or buy a prepackaged one. Yes, it's a bit more labor intensive to brew in your kitchen or on a burner in the garage, but you could certainly use that extra money to buy more ingredients or expand your system to make more beer or higher-quality beer. Of course, if you'd rather not futz around with it, there are plenty of semiautomated options.
If you have a draft setup, consider splurging for the $799 Pico Pro. Instead of a proprietary Pico Keg, the Pro uses the more standard cornelius kegs (ships with two). But it brews the same amount per batch as the C and still requires you to use PicoPaks.
If you'd rather not bother with the PicoPaks, the Zymatic (which will soon be replaced by the Z Series) will cost you. The Zymatic is priced at $1,999, and the modular Z Series will start at $2,500 (discounted to $1,499 during the pre-order phase). Both options whip up 2.5-gallon batches, but the Z Series can scale up to 10 gallons total in 2.5-gallon increments.
If you're a little more serious about brewing but still want some automation, there's the Grainfather. You'll have to supply your own fermenter, but glass carboys are cheap and even a bucket from Home Depot will do in a pinch. But otherwise the Grainfather is an all-in-one setup where you can mash, boil and cool your wort with precise temperature control. You can make batches up to 25 liters (6.6 gallons) and control everything from an app. You can even set a timer: Fill it up with water before bed and wake up in the morning ready to start brewing. But at $1,000, it's definitely targeted at experienced homebrewers. Brewie is another automated all-grain option that lets you use whatever ingredients you like, but it too is very expensive ($1,900), so it's made for serious homebrewers as well.
PicoBrew set out to make a Keurig-like device for brewing beer, and it has largely succeeded. The Pico C is an easy-to-use machine that makes good beer on your kitchen counter while you watch TV or work on other things. Beginners will definitely appreciate the simplicity and hand-holding, but if you get the urge to experiment, the C could get frustrating. Currently, the PicoPaks have a very limited selection of ingredients, especially hops. Plus you have to really plan ahead. If you're good at that, then you won't have too many headaches. I, however, am not, so relying on PicoPaks is a major inconvenience. Even though the machine works great and it consistently made good beer, I just couldn't get past that limitation.