Consider the Ricoh Caplio GX.
28-85mm Optical Wide Zoom, 5 Megapixels, 2 AA batteries, has manual mode, and is compact so I take it with me everywhere (it survived backpacking and mountain biking); I have it for a year and a half now and I'm very happy with it; it's noticeably faster than the SONY P71 I had before and takes beautiful shots (use a tripod in low light though).
It was ~$350 but it's not available in North America, you'll have to order from Europe (cheaper) or Asia.
Two wrights don't make a rong, they make an airplane. Or bicycles.