I understand your problem. I'm also a newbie, but I have been searching for a good camera for couple of months, so i've learned much.I already bought a z-40, but i took it back after one week because i was not happy with the picture quality. Otherwise it was just what i wanted. I also want a very small and light camera that has good battery life, 3xzoom,good lcd and it has to be fast.
I was also looking at t1, but I think it isquite heavyand too expensive. I've also read that it doesn't have the best picture quality and the flash was too bad for me, sinceI take pictures mostly indoors with flash.
I was also looking at digital elph s410, but that is also too heavyand too thick. And it is quite slow compared to some other cameras. Picture quality is great though.
Probably at this point the best camera to meet my need might be sony p100. It is notquite as small as z-40, but it is still very smalland light (much lighter than t1). It has very good battery life, the lcd is 1.8 and good quality and the picture quality is exellent according to many reviews. It is also very fast in every way.
I hope these help you.
Anyway, there are some interesting other options. there are new models from casio, z-50/55, and they might be good also if the picture quality has improved. And the most interesting is the new canons, sd200 and sd300, theyseem to be exactly what i have been looking for. I'm not in hurry, so i think I wait untillthere comesome reviews of those models before making my decision.