If there is one thing worse than not having your camera when needed, it is only having a poor quality camera. You end up with an impression of what could have been so much more.... oh the pain and torment!
I look back to images from my first digital and wish that I was not such an early adopter. Having said that, my little S10
did go places that I would not take my current beast. Now with a digital SLR and not having the quality restriction I do have the bulk/weight anchor! I really do not mind the inconvenience of the extra DSLR appendage, however a high quality compact would be a breath of fresh of air for those "no real chance of a quality photo" outings - on balance a reasonable trade-off.
I like having a camera handy during flights and the DSLR is a little big for the seat pocket but a compact would be much more handy. A smaller camera is noticed less which would be not a bad thing when safety is a concern or even remaining discrete for what you are shooting. If you damage a compact it is less of a hit than your main ... sounds like I'm convincing myself.
One impressive compact line is the Canon G. Now that the G12 is coming it would seem to present a great compromise between size/portability and image quality. The lens is a useful 35mm equivalent 28-140mm and it handles low light well. It includes Canon's new hybrid stabilisation system for macro work so an interesting option all around. The other feature that I find useful with this design is the LCD screen that rotates out from the back of the camera making low or high aspect shots much easier to frame. Good for the unique angle. It also has an onscreen feature that shows when the camera is horizontal or vertical. It includes a new focus tracking feature. The ISO is 80 to 3200 which seems very generous for a compact. It also has an HDR mode which is a sensible advance given it is only greater bit depth. RAW format, HD movie, think if my sales go through the roof I might have to treat myself.
Seems that it is coming out in October ...