I would also recommend that you visit http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/
and read the reviews of the latest cameras which will give you a good idea of what is available and what each offers.
Good advice, Diane, but it's hard at first to develop a frame of reference. IMO, it's best to start with a "low end" DSLR. Canon and Nikon have grand entries in this field, but there are very impressive offerings from Olympus, Pentax and Sony as well. The lens reviews at Fred Miranda.com
are a great help, because the glass really is the bulk of your photo investment. For any lens that Canon or Nikon offers, there is a response from Sigma or Tamron that is as good or sometimes better. This can sway your choice in lens mount. Right now, the Pentax K10D is a very hard package to contend with, for the price. The Sony is on the cutting edge as well, using the same CCD sensor as the Nikon D200. Olympus retains their relationship with Kodak, and the 4/3 system, with an array of glass that is entirely world class.
My personal choice for a start would be the Canon 400D/XTi with the 17~85 lens, but my whole system is Canon, so I'm biased.
If you're new to photography, the only answer is to do a whole bunch of research. Check around with your local camera stores, and find one that will let you shoot sample images with their offerings. The truth is that everything out there is very competitive, within each category. A fair starting budget is $1,500 for a camera and lens that are worth keeping. 8 or 10 megapixels are plenty, unless you intend to buy a printer that prints larger than 13" wide. Digital resolution has reached a plateau now, where decent sized prints are equal to or greater than human perception. There is a perceptible difference between the larger sensors that are used in DLSR's and those that are used in consumer digicams with the same resolution numbers.
Look at the Canon S5IS; the Fuji FZ50, and similar entries from Sony, Pentax and Olympus. These all have video capabilities because they use a video sensor. If that's important to you, it could sway your choice, but it comes at the cost of lower still image quality. The answer is research. Many of us carry one of these smaller cameras for every day snaps. I carry a Canon G-6. Others prefer the S-70, S-80, or G-7. I like to keep the CF format for all of my memory cards. That's why research is the only answer. If I didn't already own the G-6, I would jump on the Fuji F-30
without hesitation. Read, and read some more!