I'm very relieved to see your post Sarah - I really tried hard not to contradict anyone elses opinion, especially yours on trying cameras and your satisfaction in most cases with central point focus. Like many others, I've learned a lot from posters like you and JohnG on this forum, and several others on the DPReview forum.
As a new convert to DSLR's, I'm biased because I chose one of the lowest cost camera to learn with and wasn't comfortable with a physically larger model. Many would be converts are naturally concerned that they may miss some essential capability with a lower cost model. I put in my tuppence (UK version of 2 cents), when it seems that there is too much "focus" on one aspect so that the OP is pushed to a more advanced camera than he or she needs. One of the exceptions of course is low light action shots, and JohnG for example identifies this need, and gives very precise advice and backs it up with great images. But from my limited experience and reading many user opionions, I still maintain that all the current entry level DSLR models provide great value and performance for a "newbie", so choosing the "wrong" model is not a catastrophe, but the "newbie"must do as much research as possible and make up their own mind what is important for their use. The variation in performance and cost of lenses is far greater than the differences betweenentry level DSLR bodies.