If you are considering the NEX 5 then also look at the Samsung NX system, which also uses APS-C sensors. IMO they offer a better alternative due to more lens options available. I think the new NX11 and older NX10 (should be a bargain now) handle very well and, with the new firmware upgrades, perform to a level where an entry level shooter may not have too much trouble.
Also consider micro four-thirds offerings like the Panasonic G-3. Despite the smaller sensor size they are also very good cameras.