Mark.....I've been using an A1000 forseveral months for business use. It's always in my luggage or brief bag with a few extra batteries. I can not speak to the Panasonic but I have owned and used dozens of digital cameras across the spectrum big and small from cheap/cheap to Pro grade SLR's.
For the $149 I paid, given the ease of use, excellent exposures under all kinds of odd lighting...AA battery convenience, optical view finder which you didn't mention but which is very important for outside use in bright sunshine, I can not find anything to complain about. It is what it is and for a very convenient easy to use and maintain pocket digital it rocks. You are right in that there are only a very few camera's that meet this criteria. With the hundreds out there you would expect to find lots but there a only a couple that fit this discription. Youalso need to consider how easy it is to get the image files out of the camera or print them directly. I almost always shoot way under the maximum image size and quality because I'm usually sending them out immediately over the internet and it helps to keep the files smallish. This camera's menu's make it easy to dumb-down the image files and do that...and still the images are sharp and well exposed. It's just perfect for an everyday (expecially for business) carry around that's there when you need it and always seems to record a very good well exposed image, inside, outside, in bright sun or in dark rooms while on the move. Althoughit was other peoples money and I could have spent whateverit took...l chose this becauseaccidents happen, thiefts happen,loss happens andif that happens after a year or two of use with a $149 camer I'm not going to get sick over it....goog luck