much of this depends on what is important to you.
This is a $240 digital camera, with a relatively small footprint. You didn't mention how much of a telephoto lens you wanted, So I am assuming the widest range possible. Panasonic uses Leica lenses, and take breathtakingly beautiful photos. I have a Panasonic LZ-7 that is now about 2 years old, and the only thing I would trade it for, is a mid tier SLR, the entry level SLRs actually tend to be slower, and don't take photos that look as good.
Canon SX120 IS
$230 The Canon's are extremely reliable, have almost every feature you could want (10x lens in this case), and take amazing pictures. I do not like the stabilizers on the canons as much, and they seem a bit over saturated. They have a myriad of controls, many of which take time to get used to. But if you put it in auto and go, it will do well 95% of the time.
$280. Honestly I can say that I don't know a whole lot about the samsungs... I can tell you that my wife and friend both have one, little point and shoots at that. Both of them take decent photos (especially for what they paid), they have a lot of little extra features (many of them 'gimmicks' though). They both have low light stability issues though, they maintain minimal artifacting into higher ISO's, and are VERY easy to use. I will also say, that right now, my wifes samsung is now 4 years old, and still working like its brand new!
now - a few general notes, at 4MP I can print an 8x10 with minimal noise in the picture. at 5 MP I can print an 11x12. At 7mp (my current panasonic) I have printed 20x30 family portraits. Yes they are a little grainy... if your standing 6 in from them, but 2 feet away - they look WONDERFUL! My point, spend more on the lens, and the processor, not the # of Megapixle's. I personally stay away from Sony cameras because I do not like the proprietary Memory stick. Namely because it goes through some revision about every 3 years, making old devices incompatible with the latest standard. My first camera (a Minolta from 2001) used SD cards, and to this day, I can find the card it uses in ANY store that sells cards. Wal-mart, Fry's, best buy, even Rite-Aid. Can you say the same for the Memory stick? Sometimes... some stores do. But there are FOUR revisions that I can remember. SD is finally releasing a 3rd revision, to get to 64GB. For normal cameras, you will never see this be an issue. For Sony... it easily could be. I like to think long term. It is also for this reason I avoid Fuji cameras. I would suggest sticking to commonly used media. One last thing, go to a store, play with the cameras, and see what you like! if you can, take a memory card with you, take a few photos on each one, and PRINT them. This helps to see just how each will look on paper - as the screen on these things can lie.