FYI, the Deco 340 does not come with any embroidery software BUT she could purchase Explorations software (about $300) at the basic level and have 40 different lettering fonts, editing capability and then send the designs to the usb stick, which automatically converts the design to the .exp format that deco uses.
For less than $1,500 she could have a great embroidery machine AND software that she can upgrade as she wants/needs, PLUS instruction on machine and software from an authorized dealer.
The 180 sewing machine is a wonderful machine. Lots of yummy buttonholes, beautiful stitches and editing feature plus 9mm stitch width. It would make a wonderful first sewing machine.
The embroidery with V3 will be problematic. V3 and V4 softwares will not run on newer pcs (Vista and V7...don't know if you can use it on an XP computer)..so using the software may be a problem. Bernina USA also has discontinued support for this older software. IT IS POSSIBLE to download the new V6 Artlink program from the Bernina website and use that to transfer a design BUT you will need to have some sort of "box" to transfer the design to a blank Bernina Personal Design card to place in the embroidery module OR have a converter hub to be able to connect the machine-to-pc-cord that has a 9 pin plug. I can't really remember anymore but that has been a problem for some 180 users and I am not computer "connector gizmo savvy".
The 180 has a nice stitch and you can add lettering and do basic editing of designs but it is cumbersome, slow and not very accurate. It drove me to software pretty quickly in order to play with and personalize designs.
If you want to go this route, try going to a Bernina dealership and looking at their used machines. Machine guide classes are usually free with the purchase of the machines and will go a long way to help her learn about her capabilites. You can always purchase classes from the dealership but they will be costly if you don't buy the machine from them.
I would pick a 180 for just the sewing machine but if she already has a sewing machine and wants to start embroidery, I would go for a new Deco machine (embroidery only) over a used 180 anytime. The newer technology (usb stick) and easy editing will make embroidery fun rather than confusing and frustrating.
Does anyone have information on Bernina 180 E? My sister found one for sale with an embroidery module with version 3 software. Is this a good machine. The ad says that embroidery software can not be updated but I don't think that is a problem since this would be a starter machine.