I have a Lumix TZ5. They can be had for $200 if you shop around on the net. Best point and shot cam I ever owned. Panasonic rules this class IMO hands down. With features other than auto if you are inclined to use them. Also a Leica zoom lens that makes quality shots.
I also have a Canon Rebel XSi with several lenses for more serious times. Still looking for a good wide angle for it. What can you say about the Rebel Series that hasn't already been covered. Quality SLR and low processor noise at an affordable price.
I agree with the flash aspects of most point and shoots, but it can be an excellent tool with the Rebel in low light, late sfternoon, and forest pics. Also nice you can shoot it at varied flash brightness. Brings out a warmness to low light forest, and late afternoon backyard gatherings. With the right setting and a tripod, it is a good friend. I got an 8gig card this summer, great for experimenting with what your cam can do. The wife gets annpyed when we go on hikes and I take 5-10 shots of the same thing at different settings. I chose the best ones when I get home, right click properties and see what the setting were. I hope to someday get it down pat enough to just know what works best in each setting. When time is a factor and have shots you dont want to miss, Auto is always your best friend.