Olympus is the way to go. I have tried & compared Nikon, HP, Cannon, Sony, etc. but I can't leave the Olympus! I bought one back when everyone else was using film (when 1.3MP was big), and it still works. I think I got about 8 years of hard use out of it!
I recently upgraded to a 5MP Olympus Camedia (Model D-595?). It only cost about $200 at Best Buy! With 5MP, I can make a decent 8x12 that is good enough to frame. That, my friend, is a lot of potential for the money.
In your price range, you could get one with better optical zoom (digital zoom is worthless- it only crops your picture) or more MP. Keep in mind that you will need accessories ie, bag / extra battery & charger / extra memory card / perhaps cables / perhaps a card reader. Software should come with the camera. You may consider making your purchase online at Best Buy, etc. You can at least look online to compare features.
Like I said, I prefer Olympus for picture quality and durability / product life. Good luck, & welcome to digital photography.