Yeah the Canon 350D (what its called in the UK) doesn't look that bad...
The 400D replaced it though, and then of course the 450D which is around now. These cameras are all aimed at the semi-professional and would be perfect. Don't get too pushed into the megapixel war, unless you are going to be making mega sized prints. The Nikon D40 for example is only 6 megapixels, but even that is a hefty sum for display on monitors/A4 prints
Canon and Nikon both tend to release cameras every 18 months, so even if you get an older camera, you're not THAT behind the times, even though the model number is like 3 sets out. In the end, only the internal electronics change, but a camera is a camera.
You know whichever SLR you buy, your going to be getting much better than a point and shoot.
Its up to you what make you go for, but like I said; I'd definietly opt for either Canon or Nikon.
Either way, you'll be choosing a camera make for life, unless you want to sell all your lenses, or you find a lens capable of both, as your collection will probably grow if you get into it.
Sony and Samsung do produce SLR's but the market for them seems a lot lower.
Nikon's tend to produce more vibrant colours in my opinion than Canon's without processing, and Sony's tend to be less sharp.
KIT LENSES (IS/VR)
Also, I must mention kit lenses. If you don't want to be travelling around with a tripod everywhere, yet, want to use zooms, in a Canon, your looking for a lens capable of IS (Image Stablisation). It basically moves around the lenses, to compensate for camera shake to a certain extent.
For Nikon, your looking for a lens capable of VR (Vibration Reduction).
So thats IS and VR, depending on the company in question.
Older cameras, for example in the Nikon D40, doesn't come with a VR lens. It comes with a 17-55mm standard lens.
The Nikon D60 though comes with a 17-55mm VR lens. So watch out for that.
The Nikon D90 though comes with a 17-105mm VR lens, and in a way, thats 2 lenses in one, in one kit lens, that'd usually take you two to reach.
IS and VR lenses aren't needed exactly, but they're preferred.
Also make sure you take note that some SLR bodies may not contain electronic focussing within them, and so need a lens capable of this. Most newer lenses can do this, but some older lenses may not, as you may find older SLR's don't have this function.
You may be wondering what the heck Live View is if your not used to SLR's, but basically Live View is the equivilent of your compact digital cameras LCD screen, showing what you are taking without having to use a viewfinder, as they don't have an optical one like an SLR does.
Believe it or not, the LCD's displaying the scene in front of you 'live' is new in the SLR scene, as the viewfinder is usually preffered for getting images by professionals, and also, with the viewfinder, you can have the camera closer to your body, minimizing shake.
I'm not sure where I stand in this, but I may opt for a camera with one, to give me more options while taking pictures.
Don't be mistaken in thinking that every SLR with an LCD screen has this function though, as it is not true. The D40/D60 for example doesn't have LiveView, but has an LCD to display shooting information, and of course, the shot AFTER you take it, not before.
I advise you do some comparing though, and definietly go into a shop to try some if you can. I don't advise buying on the net without knowing how they feel in your hands, or how you like the menu systems in different makes.
I remembered one thing.
Newer cameras are coming out now, that are full frame sensors (wayy too expensive at the moment though), that are 1:1 ratio. I wouldn't worry about this too much, but it is something to research anyway. Quality differences aren't that apparent either, even though the sensors are slightly bigger within them.
So yeah, the Nikon D40 (cheap, affordable, 6 megapixels, no Liveview (but do you really need this?)
Nikon d60 (more expensive, 10.2mp, no Liveview) (There are more differences. Better cleaning mechanisms for one, to stop dust, etc, etc):
Canon 1000D (heard a bit about this and may be worth considering, I believe it has Liveview),
Canon 450D (more expensive than any of the rest, but again, worth considering, if you think your going to get into photography. Liveview).
Nikon D90 (of course, a lot more expensive, and with everything you need, hitting the £850-£900 mark easy, but it can also take 720p video, and has better processing than these cameras listed above)
I hope this helps anyway
I had more to say, but I'll edit if I remember.