My attitude on "electronics" in general (phone, tablet, gps, small camera, etc etc etc) is that I really have a hard time spending more than about $300 on something that has a good likelyhood of getting smashed, dunked, lost, or stolen in the not-too-distant future.
I got my mom a refurb S110 for Pagan Winter Gift-Giving Festival this year for about $200:http://www.canonpricewatch.com/product/04037/Canon-PowerShot-S110-Black-price.html
Great little camera for the money. Keep it with you all the time, & get a big SD card for it & a couple of extra batteries. Use it & be happy with the shots you get if they're well-composed & well-exposed; don't worry so much about the noise.
When you kill it, go get another one for $200 and be happy again. Hopefully it won't get lost or stolen so you can recover the images on the SD card you hadn't backed up yet, but remember that it's likely going to disappear at some point if you're using it as much as you want to be using it & back it up often.