I have now owned the Canon Rebel XTi for a year now. Here are some thoughts.
Features both full automatic modes and a full manual mode with various in between modes.
Self cleaning Sensor.
Wide array of available lens.
Takes very good Pictures.
Good Battery life.
It is like a gateway drug to more and more accessories, lens, bags, etc.
Could be a bit more rugged.
Tends to get bits of stuff on the focus screen.
Did I mention you end up spending a lot of money on it.
Nutshell: Despite it's expensive care and feeding this is a very good starter Camera for the aspiring/consumer photographer. It allows you to stretch your creative side but you can rotate the dial and have all the automatic features of the best point and shoot available. There is the instant satisfaction of looking at a photo on the 2.5 inch LCD and going "oh yeah nailed that" or thinking ick glad I can delete it.
This is no lite weight point and shoot when you start toting it around with you. You will want a nice Camera bag. I've become a big fan of the Lowepro Slingshot series of bags I went with the 100 model since it forces you to stay sparce. You will still want a stick it in your pocket so you can snap photos whenever, compact.
With the new Rebel XSi prices should be dropping on this model. If you are wanting a camera that allows a lot of creative options here is a purchase you won't regret.