Whereabouts are you, OP? If you're within reach of a John Lewis with a decent haberdashery department (Oxford Circus is great) they will talk you though it really thoroughly, and let you try different models.
I have a Toyota (actually I have two ). I like them and I think it's a good brand. Have heard good things about Janome too. Bernina machines are top of the range, but can cost £££. For simple sewing you don't need anything computerised, but try and find somewhere that will let you try it out first. You have to feel comfortable with it.