Eh, not necessarily true.
It is true that the D80 uses noise reduction technology, and this can wash out some details in a full-size print, but ONLY at 1600 or especially 3200 ISO. I'm of the opinion that the D80's noise is not a bit worse than a comparatively priced Canon. I may be slightly biased simply because the D80 is such a tempting, lovely camera (ahem, pardon me while I regain composure), but I try to be accurate.
The new D40 is very impressive noise-wise, definitely the best in its price-range. Actually, there's a lot to recommend the D40, which is why I am going to purchase it. For a first SLR, it offers a lot of helpful in-camera info (helpful always providing you understand how to get to the help), as well as a great amount of manual controls, and programmability - the menu can be rearranged for your convenience and saved, plus there's a programmable button. Excellent performance, I've seen some lovely pictures from it, and best of all it's top-quality, not at all low-end. Solid, compact, reliable... Not trying to tout it too highly, this is just the reasoning behind my own purchase. But price is also a major factor, and the D40 is above reproach in that area.
It gets a lot of flack from professional photographers (mostly of the Canon persuasion), but so far I've never come across an actual owner's opinion that was anything but positive. That should say something.
Handle all of these cameras in-store. Personally I find the Rebel XT too bulky (and its technology is older; it's not really a bargain now that the XTi has gone down a bit), the XTi just a bit too light and plasticky, and the D40, well, close to perfect - would be too small if it were any lighter, but its weight is just enough to feel substantial.
Much of this is preference - I don't think you'd be unhappy with any newer model, be it D40, Pentax K100, Canon XTi, et cetera. Read up on them all, though. Find the features you know you need, then balance out the less important features and the price.
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