A fact of life on sewing forums is that at least once a week a newbie will stop in and ask That Question. Faced with three classes of machines (sewing, serger, coverstitch), a dozen families (Janome, Singer, Bernina, etc) and a million individual species their eyes glaze over and they cry out, "Which one??"
Inevitably in a single post. Their first one. Some even give a wish list, hoping desperately for someone to say "here, here is your machine."
It doesn't work, though. First off, the constraints are often a bit too high. You want a fantastic, reliable, user-friendly machine that can handle leather and all for less than $100? So would I, kid. So would I. But even when the asker is within reasonable bounds it's just not an answerable question. So many variables are in place, from what dealers are near-by, how good each dealer is, what machines do they have, and how has that changed since the sewing experts you're asking has last gone in all affect the advice. And even if askee has every machine available to them at a Mall of America's worth of fantastic dealerships then, even with all that open to them, there's still no easy answer.
Just like with cars, each person has a machine personality and a machine need. That's why there's minivans, SUVs, neons, corvettes, and miatas - because we're not a nation that would all be happy with just a civic. Some are, of course, but others (*cough* me) love our more excentric vehicles. In the same way not every beginning sew-er will be happy with this model Kenmore or that model Bernette. I finally passed on my own Bernette 55 because it annoyed me - so much plastic, so many little things I didn't like about it. My friend, it's new owner, absolutely adores every bit that frustrated me. Go figure. At the same time she thinks my metal beasts, the twin Rocketeers (I've decided to keep them both, btw, they're very happy sisters), are rather ugly and overpowered. And heavy. Ok, I agree on that last point. But they're perfect for me, everything I want in a machine. And so far from what another stitcher would. So please understand if, when you ask what machine you should get, I can't give you a straight answer. There simply isn't one ... there's simply no other way to find Your One then to dive on in and test drive as many as you can to find out your own machine personality and then finding the one that fits. Knowing that if this isn't The One then no worries, another will show up. Because that's the second truth of sewing machines - once you have two a third will show up, then a fourth. Like cats. :)
So what machines do you have and how do they fit your personality? What 'type' are you? I'm an in-control, solid metal, slightly steampunk girl and my babies follow that. :) What are you?