I love the 30D, i just upgraded from a Nikon D70s (also a great camera). I really like the canon lenses build quality. My nikons were very sharp but often felt cheap and light, like they couldnt handle a bump. I wanted to put some serious dough into lenses and really didnt feel like plastic was the way to go. These are lenses for a lifetime! No worries with the canons the 24-70 is built like a tank and weighs almost as much. The 70-200 is a featherweight by comparison yet still has an all metal body (soooo sharp too). I really like and respect the nikon DSLR's and its always a trade-off (giving up nikons legendary and brainless flash metering and slave flash setup was hard). But i really like the 30D, its so fast, quiet and accurate with focusing that it shocks me sometimes. The LCD drives me crazy though, its not quite colour accurate. The good news is the automatic white balancing is very good, the rest I have to do from feel because white balancing based on the LCD will only disappoint you. After a short adjustment period I do like the canon control layout better as well (all the shooting parameters on the upper right part of the camera.
Anyways, I also heavily recommend the canon s80 for a medium compact camera. Fantastic picture quality, excellent flash (rare in a compact), decent zoom, good battery life. Even in full auto it really just takes fantastic pictures, i continually shock people with how sharp and vibrant the pictures are that come straight out of that camera. You can also get as manual as you want with this camera, it really scales well from beginner to beyond.
One final comment, stay away from the nikon S series ultra compacts. I bought an S6 for my wife because it had a pretty easy to use interface. It has a beautiful 3" screen, simple controls, slim size, its a gorgeous camera... too bad it takes sh1tty pictures in anything but perfect lighting. The exposure is often poor, the flash is worthless, it is very noisy, it is slow and has poor battery life. Good for stuffing in your pocket for some quick snaps of friends but thats about it.