These days I'm looking at moving away from DSLR. The smaller tech keeps getting better and better! I've got a K-5 with a 18-50DA* and 35mm Macro Limited and then a cheap sigma zoom for the long end. Backup body is a K-R. Great image quality, but they changed something about the body, and I've had nothing but trouble with it. They finally fixed all the things that annoyed me about the K-7 and then it's been one button or knob sticking after another. The only time I ever forked out the cash for a new body too.
That being said for someone starting out, I'd go used and higher end than you can afford new, newer sensors are valuable though, that technology changes so quickly. Pentax builds them tough, I dropped my K-5 lens down onto a concrete floor in the studio
(I've got issues with the new grip design, even the K-R fits my hand perfectly, but something about that K-5 is hard to hold on to, I haven't put my finger on it yet, I had a few close calls before that, which I've never experience on the K bodies shooting in any condition, including one handed off my motorbike, never mind in a nice warm studio), the lens won't zoom through the full range but the body was just fine.
Honestly though, 90% of the time I would be just as happy with a high end point and shoot probably happier.
The exceptions being the extremes: pitch
black night, something really far away.
I spend more time kicking myself for not having a camera
out and ready to shoot than I do for the fact that my point and shoot didn't shoot as well at ISO6400.
The OM-D has really caught my attention, weatherproofing, good lenses available too.
Size and form factor are great IMO, though I'm waiting to hold it to really decide. The Fuji X-pro has some appeal too, but I've been burnt by going for amazing sensor quality over usability before.
The only innovation in the DSLRs is in the sensors, and not much of that is at the lower-mid end these days IMO. They're too concerned with high ISO capabilities since people turned to that once the manufacturers started pushing megapixels over image quality, to bother with making a quality sensor.
The innovations in the point and shoot/MIRC cameras are amazing, daylight viewable screens, articulation, better sealing, better anti shake, better AF.
While I would certainly love the new Pentax medium format digital, or the 5D MkIII, in the affordable realm I'm putting my money
on the 4/3rds system, a few years ago I wasn't impressed, but it keeps getting better. I wish someone had come up with a standard for full frame or APS-C in small bodies, but I believe it's unlikely.