I have used a Canon G3 since last December and it is a great camera.
It has a 4 MegaPixel sensor and its battery lasts a long long time. The controls and menus are first class and it has a vast amount of neat options. As a beginner in photography this camera has taught me a lot because of the option of using fully manual everything. I give it me best recommendations.
Now that the Canon G5
(there is no G4
) is around the corner you can probably get a good deal on a G3. You could do a lot worse than that. I might mention that I dont care much for the digital zoom and I have only used the standard zoom which performs very well.
For a great source of consumer feedback on cameras, lenses and accessories I always check out www.photographyreview.com
P.s. you can check out my pics for samples (plug-plug-plug)