The exact history of one Arduino's failure is not determinative of the merits of having more instrumentation hooks on a board that is meant for developers.
# 5V regulator# Max 150mA output
have you tried the 'loop back' trick to check out the USB serial FTDI chip? Simply wire a jumper from ground to the reset pin and then another jumper from pin1 and pin0. When you plug in to your PC's USB it should see the device and if so then you can launch the Arduino IDE and then select the serial monitor, what you type on the keyboard should be echoed back to the serial monitor receive window.
One easy way to burn up the FTDI USB convertor chip is by misuse of the 3.3vdc pin on the Arduino connector.
it is possible if all that is wrong is the FTDI chip, is to use an external USB convertor module and wire it to pins 0 and 1 and power pins