Knowing more about your background certainly gives your opinion more valuable. I would like to make a statement which may help beginners out there see the differences you have been talking about.
Basically digital cameras fall into three very general categories:
Consumer digicams - may have EVF or optical finder, many options buried in menus, push buttons or electronic ringsto operate zoom, optical zoom ranges from none to 12X. These cameras can be very excellent picture takers but are often slow in operation, few offer a RAW mode and they can be somewhat unsatisfying to previous film SLR users due to their quirky handling.
DSLRs - fast, good lenses, "real camera" handling (manual zoom for one thing), most important controls usually accessible without resorting to menus, excellent image quality (the worst of them are merely fantastic). Sensors do pick up dust however and need to be cleaned and there is always the temptation to buy that next lens.
Bridge cameras - Nikon would like us to see the 8800 as a bridge camera but it is really just a very good digicam as is the Olympus 8080 and, to a lesser extent, the Canon Pro1. The real bridge cameras are the Konica Minolta A100, A200, A2, the Sony F-828, the Fuji S9000, the Panasonic FZ30, even the Kodak P880and the new Sony R-1. Why? Because these cameras offer handling closer to a DSLR with manual zoom controls and greater speed (although a couple of these models are still way too slow). These cameras have image quality that is only marginally better than a digicam (some like the Nikon 8800 and Olympus 8080 are in the same league in image quality, while older models like the Sony F-828 have some image and performance issues). I guess the point that I am making is that handling of a camera can be just as important as the image quality once you reach this level (all of the cameras I have listed can take great pictures but some are better in certain situations than others and none of these are perfect.). They offer DSLR like handling with good image quality and digicam advantages such as LCD viewers, and in some cases, video capture.
The bridge cameras that are now hitting the market, such as the S9000, I believe are a real alternative to the DSLR unless you really need the fastest, most flexible, camera available. An ISO 1600 shot from almost any modern DSLR is going to be cleaner than a Fuji S9000 image at the same speed BUT when you look at the prints produced the quality difference is not enough to warrant the added expenditure to match the Fuji with a DSLR kit.
I am still torn between the S9000 and a DSLR body, The fuji offers such an advantage in simplicity that it may win over slightly cleaner images and a true SLR viewfinder. (low magnification penta-mirror models are better than EVF but still not near as good asmy older film SLRs for clear sharp viewing, give me a real pentaprism please).
I apologize for rambling, I think it is time for me to take out the S7000 and go take some pictures.