The Panasonic FZ70/FZ72 is within your budget and the Olympus SP-100 is
round $260. It's worth looking at these cameras too, if they are available in
If you prefer one of the cameras you mentioned, I'd take the one that you like best,
as there is not much quality difference between them.
Ask 10 different people "which camera should I buy" and chances are, you'll get 10 different answers every time! Here's mine...in my opinion, it depends on WHAT you want to shoot. For example if your interest is as simple as taking some "vacation snapshots" or just some pictures that you can email to family and friends, than I suspect that any sub-$100 compact would likely serve you well. I forget the model number (and it's downstairs at the moment), however I have a spanky little Sony 16.1 mp compact that's pretty decent...fit's in my pocket and only cost $80 new (and interestingly enough, it actually shoots pretty decent HD video as well). No, it's not nearly as good as my DSLR's, however it does a pretty good job for what it is and I do use it quite a bit (especially for taking pictures of stuff for Craigslist, Amazon, Ebay, etc). Of course if you're more interested in something like wildlife or even sports, a "super zoom" may be a better option. Again I have to support Sony here in that I shot with a Sony H1 for quite a while...by today's standards it's only a 5 megapixel camera, however I've done some GREAT work over the years with that sucker. Many of the super zooms out there can give you a bit more of a feel for what a "real" camera handles like and it's a great way to get your feet wet. On the other hand, if you have more serious or professional aspirations, with your budget I suspect you could find a used Nikon D50 with a decent "kit lens" that would certainly get you headed in the right direction.
I will say that personally I have a grudge against Canon. When my 40D suffered from the infamous "E99" error, I got a 2 month run around with little more than a "bait and switch" attempt from their customer service trying to get me to buy another camera. For what they wanted for the repair or a replacement, after the serious hassle they gave me, I switched to Nikon and haven't looked back...I'll -NEVER- buy another Canon product again. Never.
That said, I do have to second the sentiment of considering used. Without doubt you can get A LOT more camera for your money if you're willing to consider used. The fact of the matter is that technology has moved along so quickly that digital cameras get "out of date" very quickly these days. That's not to say that a camera that may be a few years old is "bad", it simply means that something newer has come along and replaced it! While resources like Craigslist and even Ebay can often warrant a degree of caution for the uneducated, there are a number of very reputable online retailers who offer used equipment, such as B&H Photo, Adorama, etc., and in some cases the used equipment may even come with a warranty! This past week I just snagged a used Nikon D7000 (DSLR) to replace my broken D90 (dropped it while shooting water falls)...the camera is used, but in pristine condition with less than 6000 clicks on the shutter (barely broken in) and it only cost me $380...a SUBSTANTIAL bargain compared to similar new cameras costing as much as $1000 or more and it suits my needs quite well.
So that said...as far as brands go, regardless of new or used, for the low end I personally like the Sony's and for a "better" camera, I'm Nikon all the way...that's what has worked best for me. Either way, decide what you're interests are FIRST, then make your decision based on your own actual needs.