This is my first DSLR, and I have to say that I am really impressed by it. I chose it after reading many articles on photography and various camera reviews. It is a great camera to beginners, very simple to use. The screen is very intuitive and makes it very easy to use. Let me point out some pros and cons:
PROs 1. 10 Megapixels is more than enough to have high quality pictures; 2. It is very light, which makes it more comfortable to handle; 3. Controls are very accessible (on the upper left side), and with some practice you can change settings very quickly, for unexpected moments that requires you to set a different mode or exposure; 4. The software is very simple and practical. Correcting brightness, contrast and colors is very easy. You MUST shoot RAW! If you are just beginning in this field, it is imperative that you shoot RAW images and use the software to learn how your pictures can be improved by using different exposures and other settings, such as White Balance; 5. The price is fantastic. Clearly the best cost-benefit for DSLRs currently in the market.
CONs 1. The grip for the right hand is indeed a bit uncomfortable (if your are used to bigger grips commonly found in other cameras). But if this is your first camera, it would not be an issue. I am already used to it. 2. Battery runs off quickly if you use a lot of flash. First time I used it, it ran off after less than 200 photos. Then I tried taking pictures without the flash (with better sunlight, night shots, or exploiting more the shadows), and it went around 500 photos; (having more than 1 battery is a MUST, even with more efficient cameras, so in the end, it matters very little) 3. No live-view. But let's face it, if you own a DSLR, you should use the viewfinder. LCD screens don't provide the accuracy of the viewfinder, and using the viewfinder forces you to pay total attention to the shot, its focus and framing.
Having other lenses makes the experience even better (a macro, a wide angle, a zoom...) Perhaps it is useful to take a look at pictures taken with the A230 on appropriate websites. It is a great camera, and I recommend it to beginners like myself.