I am an amature [can't even spell it] but went from a Pentaz PZ series film camera to my 20 D. The difference in quality right out of the box is incredible to me. Friends and family have been asking what I am doing that makes my shots look so good. Obviously I don't say anything LOL.
In my opinion the 20D has some really great things going for it: Affordable [compared to other 8 mp cameras], 8 megapixes, great auto focus system, quick on off, excellent lenses, digital, good software support to adjust photos, did I say great auto focus. We amatures need all the help we can get while exploring other programs and for me the Canon does it.
Good luck with you selection.