I agree with hunterjenn- my new kenmore (about $200) is a workhorse! I took a sewing class at my local JoAnns trying to get my old machine up and running, and the kenmore is what she recommended for a beginner. it does everything I could possible need for the projects I want to do. It came with all the appropriate presser feet for zippers, button holes, and blind hems.
I knew I didn't need 1800 stitch settings or computerized free quilting/ embroidery patterns and all that lovely stuff, b/c it is so unlikely I'll ever get that good. And if I do, I'll buy one then.
And believe it or not, kenmore and Janome are made by the same manufacturers.... (according to my class teacher).
did I say one project at a time?