I waited to buy a digital camera also. I did some research and then started to think about what I needed. That's the first step for you also. I bought my fiance a CX7430 Kodak and found it's a great camera. It cost about $189.00 not including the 256 MB card. Those cards are cheaper than what I paid last year (Feb 2005). The card will give you about 300 pictures. The quality is 5-star and you'll see this on your computer screen. One thing to learn about digitals: there is a lag time between pressing the button and the time the camera 'clicks' when the picture is actually taken. This is a pain and most folks I know don't like this. I have found that the Kodak has a minimal lag time, therefore, my pictures do not turn out fuzzy.
The camera also lets you take some video's that are not bad in quality at all. You'll also get a USB cord to hook up your camera to your TV and view your pics and video's.
Overall,,,,as a very picky customer, I am very pleased with this camera.
Sam's Club has two versions of this camera; one with a plastic outer-case and one with a metal outer-case. They'll try to sell you the camera with the metal stating that if you 'drop it' the metal casing will have a better protection. Maybe, but it costs $20.00 and you shouldn't be dropping your camera in the first place. Besides, a metal case won't necessarily protect the INSIDE COMPONENTS of any camera when dropped.