Always a fun topic, so I'll chime in. I started off with a Craftsman 15" benchtop. I wasn't sure that I'd take to the craft and didn't have a huge amount of money to sink into the enterprise, so this seemed like a good place to start. Of course, this was like saying I'll just try crack once to see if I like it. The addiction was immediate and powerful. My relationship with the Craftsman was love-hate, though. That machine required frequent maintenance to perform adequately and ate $60 drive belts at the rate of about 1/year.
I've sinced moved on to a Nova DVR 3000 and I love it. It's a terrific machine, does everything I ask of it, is amazingly quiet (especially after the Craftsman), and after about 4 months has been consistently reliable. (Not much time, I realize, but the Craftsman had already required a warranty repair by the same point). Teknatool has been great about responding to my questions about setting up the lathe (try that with McSears and see where you get ':x'). I haven't tried any really large timber on the Nova, as finding anything of the sort on my edge of the Great Basin desert is unlikely.
Before I bought the Nova I attended a workshop over in Provo. They had both Oneway and Vicmarcs. All solid machines, but I still don't have the price of a used car to plunk down on a lathe. Someday I'd love to have a Oneway in the shop, when I can justify it. But I also see another move in my future, and I couldn't imagine losing several friendships over moving a Oneway. When I do get one of those, whoever settles my estate will have to deal with moving the lathe!