Well, I finally bought a real digital camera. It is a Nikon CoolPix 880, which is a 3.3 MegaPixel camera with some incredible close-up capabilities. I've used it for just a few days and I can already tell we're going to be very good friends.
I did a good bit of research at the following sites:
I purchased the camera from www.bhphoto.com and other than a fairly strong New York Attitude, I was satisfied with the service. I also picked up some accessories from www.adorama.com and www.cameraworld.com
I'm looking into printing and framing through online vendors such as www.ophoto.com, www.shutterfly.com and www.photoaccess.com . Their prices seem quite reasonable, but I have not seen the quality of the prints. Some newsgroup snooping turns up favorable reviews, plus some other companies that provide this type of service.
I have CompactFlash cards in 64Mb, 16Mb sizes. The 64Mb card holds 159 1024x768 images in Fine mode that I typically use. For web page images at 640x480, it will hold 500+.
I can connect the camera directly to my PC using a USB cable. But more commonly, I use a USB CompactFlash reader from Antec to copy the images to hard disk. From there, they are manipulated and written to CD-R for permanent archival.