if you are looking at the cheaper end of the market, say below £250, go for janome. have to say, ime, brother are not very good, toyota just as bad, pfaff not as good as they used to be, husqvarna and bernina are the best but pricey. hth
I got a 'Silver' one today, I've never heard of them but the man in the little shop said it's as good as the Husqvarna viking one which was £199, I paid £139.
You were right about going to a little shop rather than Argos etc, the man was like someone from a history book, and really nice and helpful, he even said if I get stuck then I can go in for unlimited lessons
I've taken up one pair of DH's trousers already, and now that I have a machine that works I want to make things!