I've had a Taig Micro Lathe II for about 5yrs now. No doubt, I love this little lathe! I too am an amateur and always will be. But, it has been great learning on this lathe, and I have modified it in several ways that, IMHO, enhance it's capabilities (thanks so much Taig news group! and the folks who contribute there).
Now, you must realize this lathe is more of a "watch makers" or "jewelery makers" lathe than an engine or tool room lathe. I kinda' see it as a hybrid of sorts if you will. It features a rack and pinion saddle drive rather than a lead screw type drive. It will never cut threads in it's native form but I haven't myself needed a lathe to do this much. If thread cutting is anticipated, look at some of the more conventional small lathes available, or plan on modifying the Taig.
Taig makes a whole plethora of add-ons and tooling for this lathe, and the pricing of the lathe and associated tooling is hard to beat for what you get. In addition, there is a fairly healthy aftermarket for extra tooling, plans to build your own tooling, and personal/commercial websites featuring Taig related products and expositions on owner modified equipment and/or development. Check out cartertools.com for the largest of this type of web site. Nick (Carter) is also a dealer and has been the moderator of the Taig Yahoo group since its inception, and is a tireless supporter of these products.
There are several other dealers on the web as well, and their sites are a look.
When I was researching like you, after several weeks I narrowed it down to Taig and Sherline products. I even bought the machining handbook from Sherline, which features their products throughout (great book too) while teaching a newbie the fundamentals. But in the final analysis, for me, the Sherline products where a little too expensive for me and my planned use of the equipment. Even though I greatly admire the Sherline products, I still hold my same views today and I believe I would make the same decision all over again, proving at least I finally made a decision that fit me well.