Buying a new camera - Oh, what fun
When you say, "...nothing too complicated..." that makes me consider something other than SLR.
The advantage of SLR is, of course, the variety of lens available ... and, of course, we just gotta keep spending to get that next must have
lens. I would really like to have, for myself, an "advanced" point-and-shoot that gives me most of the features (settings) available on my SLR. I would be looking for something that has optical IS (what Canon calls it) or VR (what Nikon calls the same thing). I also want something with a "big zoom" capability --- why else did I buy a telephoto lens for my SLR?
I agree that you should go to a store where you can touch and handle and "under $500" provides a huge range of possibilities. The Canon PowerShot series has many choices which includes the G10 that everybody likes. I would be more interested in the PowerShot SX10 because of the 20x optical zoom compared with the G10 at only 5x.
Kodak's EasyShare line has gotten good reviews: the Z1015 has a 15x zoom ($210) and the Z980 goes up to 24x ($400). Also at that same $400 price is the Nikon Coolpix P90 which also has a 24x zoom and, of course, optical VR.
The Canon G10 is the only advanced P&S I am aware of that provides the ability to shoot in RAW. That's important to many of us on this forum but I have to wonder if it means anything to your daughter. I am probably attaching more importance to telephoto zoom than it deserves, but that's something important to me.