Consider a Digital SLR
If you're serious about taking great photos, I recommend investing in a digital SLR (single-lens reflex) camera. Such cameras give you the ability to control as much of the exposure process as you want for each photo, and they provide RAW format support, interchangeable lenses, and higher-quality images than point-and-shoot models can manage.
Which one should you get? Honestly, I don't think it matters much. You could throw a dart at a pile of digital SLR ads and end up with a good model: Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, Sony and other major camera makers create generally superb SLRs. So go to a store and see which models feel the most comfortable in your hands. Explore their differences, but don't obsess over which SLR is "best."
If you don't know where to begin, start with PCWorld's "[[xref:http://www.pcworld.com/reviews/collection/1602/top_10_digital_slr_cameras.html|Top 10 Digital SLR Cameras|Top 10 Digital SLR Cameras]"; our current number one model, the [[xref:http://www.pcworld.com/reviews/product/32129/review/d90.html|Nikon D90|Nikon D90]], is pictured here.