Justbeachy.....my research when I bought last year led me away from both of your choices, especially the Minolta.
You can't beat either a Nikon or Canon product in my opinion. I would place the Sony products up high, however they always seem to be overpriced in my opinion. Have heard good things about the Kodak and HP cameras however they were not out when I was researching so can't really speak to them. The website mentioned, Steves's digicams is an excellent starting point. Just remember don't overbuy.....meaning try to pin down how you will use the camera. You may not need certain features or require higher than a certain spec level. I would go for the 4.0 MP and 3X optical zoom.
With that said I would look at the Nikons, although I think the SLR style Coolpix 5700 will be more than you want to spend, and the Canons, especially the Powershot A80 for your price range. I have the Canon G2 (now the G5) and love it, but it is similiar to the Nikon Coolpix 5700 in price.