What to buy? (<$250)

I have never really looked into cameras much so now that I am in the market for one I am somewhat clueless. The amped up marketing is on MP and zoom capabilities, is this what I should also be interested in or is marketing once again just a scam =P. My birthday is right around the corner and ill be traveling next year a lot so I am looking for a solid digital camera for less than $250. Any suggestions on what I should be looking at, including links, will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance =)
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  1. My personal preference is for cameras that have an optical viewfinder and simple physical controls (as opposed to onscreen menus) because in bright sunlight you can have trouble seeing anything on the preview screen. Canon still make some of those.

    Beyond that it comes down to general handling (if you have large hands a small camera may not be the best solution).

    Brandwise it's pretty hard to buy a really bad camera at the price you suggest but I'd start with the established photographic brands -- Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Pentax, Fuji -- though Panasonic's Lumix models are pretty nice too.
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