I'm in need of an easy to operate Digital camera in the $150 range.
The basic trichotomy of response you face is that professionals will typically tell you to get a Single-Lens Reflex (SLR) camera, prosumers will typically tell you to get a high-end point-and-shoot camera, and the average consumer will typically either recommend or discourage purchasing cameras they've actually owned, because they aren't constantly looking at cameras to see what else is out there.
If you are looking to record videos, you might as well write off SLRs. I would write SLRs off just because you're wanting to spend $150 and you want an easy to operate camera. When you say "easy to operate" I take that to mean you want a low-maintenance camera and a low learning curve, as well as a reduction of steps to capture a great image. I'm not aware of any SLRs that can provide all those things.
High-end (or prosumer) cameras can be great, but like you said, there are enough out there to overwhelm a person. Probably the single-most useful website out there for camera advice is: http://www.dpreview.com/
I would suggest you visit and read their reviews. I side with Bill on the Canon or Nikon brands for prosumer cameras, but with so many things that could go wrong with digital cameras in the hands of a careless camera jockey, I would avoid purchasing used consumer grade cameras. Used SLRs are a better gamble since the owners were probably very careful with such expensive gear. I would also like to add the high-end Panasonic cameras to the recommended prosumer list.
As for inexpensive cameras, here are two that I like that are at least under $300:Kodak Z812 IS
($250 or less)http://www.kodak.com/eknec/PageQuerier.jhtml?pq-path=11592&pq-locale=en_US&_requestid=8196Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ7
($150 or less) & DMC-LZ8
($180 or less)http://www2.panasonic.com/consumer-electronics/shop/Cameras-Camcorders/Digital-Cameras/Lumix-Digital-Cameras/model.DMC-LZ8K_11002_7000000000000005702http://www.dpreview.com/news/0701/07013102panasoniclz6lz7.asp
The Kodak Z812 IS is the one to get of the two if HD video is important. Unfortunately, and surprisingly, dpreview.com lacks a review for the Z812 IS. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ7 is the easiest camera I've ever used. It's so easy that I've taken a lot of photos of pizzas on this site with it because I didn't want the time expenditure of setting adjustments on a higher-end camera. In just a single mode (Intelligent ISO), you can take a very wide range of shots. The only down side to the camera is the quality of the macro mode. Macro focus is unpredictable, so I sometimes just leave it in Intelligent ISO mode when shooting close-ups.
Golden Chalice thread images were taken using a Canon PowerShot S3 IS.http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,5028.0.html
Ultragrain thread images were taken using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ7.http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,6290.0.html
The S3 IS is many times more expensive than the DMC-LZ7, especially when you add on special lenses.