3 hours on a set of batteries is great. Most camera use is just a few minutes out of each hour so it appears you are using the camera in a nontypical way. You may want to see if you can rig up a belt battery pack to make it through the day. You see them often on TV camera crews.
I'm looking for a compact/ultra compact camera and my main criteria is having a battery that lasts a long time. Ideally, it would seem nice to have a cradle to put the camera on (like a pDA) that will keep it charged for when I want it.
I want a camera for basic family stuff and I'm assuming that picture quality and all the bells and whistles are generic and similar enough across cameras. I have an HP camera that is about 6 years old, that takes 4 AA batteries and can't seem to last 3 hours without the batteries draining. Thus, whenever I want to take a picture, it's not ready.