I'm in the market for a new digital camera (and hoping to land a holiday bargain). Just try to search online for advice on shopping for cameras. You'll likely get 14 million useless pages with details on outdates cameras, and another 22 million useless pages full of ads disguised as blog reviews. That's a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea. Anyway, I finally found what is some of the most sensible advice I've seen online for non-pro camera shoppers. Wired.com has a series of gift guides on how to buy a smartphone, an HDTV, an e-Book, and a digital camera:
Don't get hung up on megapixels - whether you have 9 or 11 matters less than whether you have a good lens. You can have millions of lovely pixels, but if the lens is crappy, you'll get crappy photos. Get the fastest (lowest f/stop number) and widest-angle lens you can find within your budget. Remember, the best camera for you is the one you learn how to use - when the magic moment happens, you don't want to miss it because you're fiddling with the knobs and on-screen menus.
They've got much more detailed info in the actual buying guide.