I am all in favour of skipping the plastic, cheaper, entry level machines and going for a decent combo first up.
Heres where it gets tricky. How far in do you jump?
I personally went through 4 plastic machines and 4 grinders before arriving at the Silvia/Rocky I currently have.
Whilst I am happy with my gear now... the HX does beckon (albeit a very faint call at present).
The one thing that will serve you well no matter what machine you get, is a good grinder. A Rocky, Lux or one of the others in the same class or better is an absolute MUST.
As for the machine, well you will see here that a number of different machines are owned by various members. I only have experience with the Silvia, and it serves me very well.
A lot is currently being written about the latest Sunbeam on the market. It is pretty new and many people are waiting for Alan Frew (coffeeco) to review this machine fully. I daresay if his words are favourable, the Sunbean unit will be well worth considering.
Beyond that, I suppose the big question is "What types of coffees will you want to make at home?" If milk isnt really your thing, then this might also influence your choice .
Dont be afraid to post follow up questions and perhaps even consider purchasing through one of the site sponsors. They are all very knowledgeable people and very firendly.
Hope that helps.