Before you study the camera-study yourself.Be realistic.Are you techie minded, will you study the manual properly, will you try out advanced features or will always just shoot in auto mode? Don't buy a complicated camera when you need something simple or vice versa.
Determine your Real Need
Why are you really buying this camera, what objective and need is it going to fulfil, is it only for occasions and birthdays, are you going to do a lot of outdoor photography, is it just for vacations? Your camera must be able to meet your real objective; else you'll end up frustrated with the wrong choice.
Be a Myth Buster
Compact Digital cameras have the maximum number of myths attached. Don't fall for them. Megapixels are mainly a marketing tactic now- anything over 10MP is good enough. Digital zooms numbers are just silly specs and will spoil your picture only optical zoom matters. Don't get seduced by silly features and pay more-image stabilisation is important a smile shutter may not be, facial detection is important but pet detection is not!
Xray the deal
\ See what you are really getting. While bundles and discounts are good-they usually don't have all that you need. Extras can really add up. Most Batteries are proprietary check how much an extra one costs, see if the case is included - you'll need one, buy more memory for sure-it fills up fast.
Get Hard Core
Be aware of the the basics. Read up reviews and get onto discussion forums. The basics that matter are battery life, size of the sensors, glass or plastic optics, quality of low light photography, video shooting capability and auto focus speed.
Be Future Ready
Don't skimp on what you're buying today. You aren't going to change your camera for quite a few years. Buy the best one you can afford and pay extra for future ready features like Wi-Fi and remote control thru your mobile phone.