Well after extensive debate and looking and trying out the competition, I ended up with the Sony Alpha A100 DSLR.
AF built into body
Image Stabilizer (Steady Shot) built into body
Based on Konica Minolta Platform so accepts their SLR lenses
Built in DRO (dynamic range optimizer) function
Noise reduction function etc
Dust reduction sensor
Same CCD hardware as the Nikon D200
Eye-to-view finder AF (as it senses your eye approaching the view finder it AF's)
3FPS continuous shooting until card is full (3fps is not sporadic like competition)
2 function dials
I really like the spectrum of colors this thing cranks out. No muddy pics, the red and blues and purples are reproduced better than any other camera I have seen. The built in AWB seems to perform very well, and not once have I had to adjust it like my old Digicam. Its is very comfortable, more so than either of the Canon or Nikon offerings that are comparable. The 2.5" LCD has awesome backlighting and accurate color reproduction, plus doesnt wash out with ambient light like others I have tried. The battery lasts forever!!! After 200+ shots my battery meter still registers full. I bought a back up just in case but it might have been a waste of money.
Why buy over the competition?:
If you don't have a previous stock pile of lenses, this camera offers an amazingly affordable route. Since AF and IS are built into the body of the Cam there is no need to spend $800 on a lens to get it.
Canon Rebel Xti
The Xti kit is slightly more expensive, and to get a comparable 28-300mm f3.5 zoom lens, it is $799 compared to $200. Less comfortable to use (Sony is little smaller than D80 size). Kit lens with Canon is reputed to be junk and is hated in all reviews I saw (even by die hard canon guys), not to mention has 20mm less zoom. 15-50mm vs 18-70mm. So expect to buy an additional lens if you don't have one out of the box.
Not AF motor built into body which means every lens you buy has to be equipped with AF which=$$$$. No IS built in which adds to lens price.
Too small for my hands. Even my old Panasonic Lumix FZ5 felt better to hold. Non continuous shooting 2fps for 27 shots. A lot less features for same price.
Same issue with lens expense, more expensive and does have a few extra features that would be nice. Is bordering on the verge of clunky with its size and weight.
What the reviews say:
From all my research I concluded that the Sony was trying to break into a pretty exclusive class of digicams that for years has been ruled by canon and nikon and has partisan lines drawn accordingly. The main complaint I unanimously found was that noise gets high over ISO 800. Personally I do not shoot over ISO 400, and I haven't found an instance where I have needed to. Not to mention the competition and the Sony manuals alike do not recommend above ISO 400 for pic quality. This could be however just my skill level. If someone has a valid instance please chime in.
Buy it if you want incredible value for the money and don't already own proprietary lens systems or own KM lenses. Over all I am pretty happy and am glad I stepped outside the box.
These are in the SSOTEHDAYTHREAD
Playing with zoom with shutter open.