singer, brother, kenmore, bernina, pfaff. are among the biggest brands. i have a pfaff which is a bit more expensive than a singer. but I do a lot of quilting and it fit my needs.
singer has been around forever. i would personally go to a store that specializes in sewing machines and ask them for advice. try them out.
my mom has a bernina and I completely hate it. it is too fancy, too digital and very difficult to use. my pfaff is very simple. no real whistles and bells, gets the job done.