This was my first digital camera after decades of shooting 35mm film. Though I've had many SLR bodies over the years, my favorite and most reliable was my Pentax k1000 so you know I'm manual-minded and like a lot of control.
I bought my 350D with the 18-55 kit lens for about $750 a couple of years ago. I've been really delighted with it.
My negatives: I could do without some of what I'll call the amateur grade features that Canon includes to make the camera accessible to the point and shoot crowd. Instead, I would have prefered more control over metering and an easier way to manage settings in full manual. I have had no issue with the plastic body. Just recently, though, I bought a 100-400 L zoom lens which is very heavy and I worry about stressing the lens mount. Not a fan of the 1.6 crop sensor, but you know that's what you're buying. The kit lens is not worthless, and I've kept mine for when I'm going to places that are hostile to camera gear like the beach, but a good replacement should be your next purchase.
My positives: The camera is wonderfully light and a pleasure to take on long trips. Image quality, when not compared to pro-grade Canon bodies, is excellent. I find myself fumbling to get my desired settings in Manual mode, but the camera is otherwise very easy to operate.
In sum, this is an EXCELLENT first digital SLR. And depending no your level of interest and available funds, this may be the only DSLR you will ever need, want, or buy. I enjoy the art/hobby aspect of photography and after a couple of years, found the camera limiting and am stepping up, probably to a 5D.