There's a LOT out there to pick from now. A lot depends on what kinds of things you want to sew, how much you want to sew, etc...
Singer and Brother: ehh... they're okay machines, but the new ones I would not expect to last as long as their older predecessors have... and not very heavy duty, either. okay starter machines, i guess. My first machine was an older Singer... I hate that thing... my sister is inheriting it as soon as I can get down to CA to hand it off to her.
Now, for the nice machines: I have a Janome. great little machine. They have both mechanical and electronic, new. The prices range from dirt cheap (do not get one of those mini machines, from any company... they aren't heavy enough to stay down when you're going through stuff) to super holy-cow-I-didn't-think-a-sewing-machine-could-cost-that-much prices... I've looked... and even I'm shocked sometimes (stay away from long arm quilters unless you have LOADS of cash and know what you're doing).
I'd say basic electronic Singer or Janome. I hate Singer now, but that is my own opinion. The newer ones just don't have the same quality of the old ones... yet they do have the electronics... my Janome has 50 stitches, roughly half of which are utility stitches (man, I've done some cool stuff I couldn't do on my basic bare-bones Singer).
Get it from a sewing machine place, which can help you find people to teach you how to use it, if they don't offer classes themselves. Don't get it from a mega-market type place (Walmart/Target/etc) because their people have no clue about the machines and won't offer classes. JoAnns, if you have one nearby, usually has a contract company with some machines... they usually sell Singer and Brother. and not much else.
If you have a chance, time and money, come out west to the Sewing Expo in February. It's south of Seattle (in Puyallup) and is immense. You can play with pretty much every brand of machine out there and they offer show deals (I got my 400 dollar Janome Heart Truth machine for half that, but only because I hemmed and hawed at the $300). There are also fabric deals to die for... I'm there with my friend Sue on Thursday and Friday... and they're they quiet days (as opposed to Saturday and Sunday).
Is your head spinning yet? Go with an electronic Singer (but spend more on a better machine with them, so it may last longer) or electronic Janome. I love my Janome.... so I'm a little biased... but i know some folks here who swear by Singer and Brother... so I would say Singer over Brother (sorry folks, but I hear far too many complaints about Brother at work - in a fabric store).
I'll let others pop in and give their two cents too...