The new Canon SX10 IS looks interesting. It has a tiltable screen, which I always have found really useful when I've had it. It has a ridiculously long zoom (28mm-560mm, long enough that even with stabilization it might be hard to use).
And from early test images, it looks like it has really nice image quality. It remains to be seen yet how this quality holds up under different zoom lengths, but so far, look at this sample at 80 ISO, and this one at 800 ISO. For a small-sensor camera, this is really good. And it's only $400.
Alternatively one can get a far smaller camera with the same image quality if one does not need the really long zoom. (Sadly the movable screen is not common though.) Or if one can live with a slightly bigger camera and slightly higher price, one can get better low-light capability (bigger sensor) and exchangeable lenses. Decisions, decisions.
Update: I complimented Imaging-Resource on the usefulness of the target they use for some of their testing images (see links above). They said: " We actually put quite a lot of thought into the content of that image. Fine detail, deep shadows, strong highlights, primary colors for hue rendering, lots of tone-on-tone detail across different parts of the color spectrum (the fabric swatches) to smoke out issues with noise reduction processing, etc."