This would give you the best image quality for under $300:
HUGE sensor compared to a point-and-shoot camera.
Faster performance compared to a P&S.
None of the gadgets you want; no GPS, WiFi, or automatic panorama mode.
FYI, flash on any camera is weak. It's fine for people pictures, but you can't use it for night shots of the city. That requires long exposures, or in-camera image combining technology, such as Sony's Handheld Twilight mode. Bear in mind that a long exposure will be higher quality, but a combined image is "good enough" for viewing on a computer or for small prints.
I'm looking for a camera to take with me to NYC here in a few weeks, and this is what i'm looking for:
-budget of $300 maximum (and even that's pushing it, because i wanted to get extra batteries)
-nice shot-to-shot speed, it would be nice if it started up quick as well, so i can keep up with the hustle and bustle of the city
-crisp daylight photos
probably the feature i'm most worried about:
-As good of night shots as i can get for this price range, with flash of course... i don't see myself getting a very nice DSLR for $300. i know that much. but i'm going to be there for New Year's Eve, and it would be nice to get some decent photos of myself and the people i'm going with, and the lights and things that are going on. even if i have to use flash to get them.
-Panorama shot capability-- i'd love to get a panorama of some places there.
-GPS & WiFi.... it would be nice to let my family know what i'm doing as soon as it happens, the WiFi feature is very nice in my opinion.
i'm not worried about it being compact, i'm more worried of the actual performance of the camera. Putting it on a strap won't upset me because i can keep track of it easier that way.
basically, in essence, i'd like a point-and-shoot because that's all i really have the money for right now, but one that does a little moreso.
Cameras i was looking at:
and a couple others, but i figured i'd ask more knowledgeable people what sounds right for me.