I finally made a decision about which sewing machine to buy: the Elna 2600. I found that the Janome machine and the Elna were very similar, but when I tested them out the Elna one seemed to run very smoothly.
I took custody of the new machine on Thursday and found it relatively straightforward to get everything set up. I tested out many of the stitches on scraps of fabric (note to self: buy more thread!), and now am keen to get started on a real project. First up are two cushion covers for our guest bedroom – I plan to make these tomorrow, and will let you know how the machine performs.