Hi! i'm a newbie as well. i started off with a canon powershot s50 and just recently got the canon 20D. i'm very happy with it! it's very fast, has less noise compared to a nikon D70, long lasting battery life.. and well, i think maybe you should visit dpreview or some other some other site to some research before buying the camera.
however, right now.. i would highly recommend the canon 20D. but at the end of the day, its your money and your choice. oh! and i think you should also follow kh_drew's advice.