There are a lot of options, but they pretty much fall into four categories: New brandless/labeled import (HF, WEB, etc…), new branded (Delta, Grizzly, Jet, MSC, etc…), premium, and old iron
The brandless have poor quality control, but the price is right. The motors tend to be pretty bad, and have a moderate failure rate, in my experience. They tend to be a kit, needing work to be a good tool, but can be economical if you are willing to do the work. There are compromises, depending on the label, such as making a floor stander model from a tabletop by putting in a longer column, leaving you with a lightweight head and skinny column, making for a flimsy machine. Spindle runout can be a problem, vibration can be a problem. The chucks tend to be pretty crummy, as well, and this is a big expense to upgrade.
The branded ones tend to have better quality control and better motors out of the box. You pay for this, but it is worth it in an environment where the half day for someone to ‘make it right’ costs more in labour than the difference in price for an unbranded one. These also tend to have heavier castings and larger columns that are appropriately sized for the machine. The line between the brandless/labelled ones and the branded is fairly blurred, but I have had good results in the last few years with the Jet and the MSC labelled machines. The small Delta (big-box store benchtop model) I have, and am trying to unload as I don’t use it anymore, is a bit anemic, has too much runout, and came with a poor quality chuck.
The premium makes— Clausing, for example-- are a LOT more expensive, but you get what you pay for. The question is: do you NEED what you would be paying for? Given what you said, I would guess not.
Old iron is often a good bet, even if a little travel is needed to get it. A 40 year old Clausing floor stander with variable speed, and a 1HP motor can be had for less than $US100 in some areas, and may run $US500 or more in others. I see then in my area for about $US250 regularly. Older iron, like early 20th century industrial machines can be had for peanuts, if you don’t mind open belting and oiling the drive. Often, they need bearing work, but they are heavy, easy to service, and many have speed ranges from 2000RPM down to sub-60RPM, with torque that will strip the hide from an elephant.
I, personally, upgraded a couple years ago to a 3/4HP Clausing knockoff (20 speed with two stage belt reduction, floor stander, Taiwan made) from about 1985 for $US50 that needed bearings ($US20 from McMaster…could have got them cheaper from the bearing house, but McMaster is more convenient). I upgraded the chuck (I have spares), but the original was serviceable.
If I was to buy another new for wood use, I’d probably go the higher grade Delta as a compromise. For wood and metal use, I’d probably go to the Jet or equivalent again, unless I could justify the Clausing or Dake.