With mandolines it’s true that less is more. Classic french examples weigh a ton, cost a mint, and are perfectly capable of removing entire body parts if misused. Most working chefs favor an inexpensive alternative, the japanese Benriner (pictured left, in the queasy green color), and I use mine weekly.
Another strong contender is the all-stainless steel model made by the venerable German firm Rösle (pictured right).
What is not apparent from the picture is that the Benriner also comes with additional blades that allow it to be set up to quickly cut uniform strips for julienne and brunoise.
I find that the Rösle is easier to adjust accurately for slicing but agree with Rulhman that if you have only one tool it should be the Benriner, since the Rösle does not have julienne blades.
For wimps, hand guards are included or available with either model.
Amazon.com carries both mandolines.