If I wanted a cool logo I'd get a Leica. I hope you don't think I'd take the trouble to post a thread and then make a decision in such an adolescent fashion.
I'm still trawling through websites at pace, yet, the more I read the less difference I percieve as my ultimate choice making. Looking at dpreviews excellent studio tests with their side-by-side ISO noise checker thingy, I can see very, very little difference in performance between the main contenders. One of only 3 drawbacks on snapsort.com against the A580 vs the D5100 was "increased start-up time". It's 0.3s slower.
I think even the reviewers are struggling to find a difference. It looks like a choice between the Nikon D5100 and the Sony Alpha 580 at the moment. Will update soon. I think it might come down to how the cameras feel in my hands side by side but I am liking the meatier models. The A580 and D5100 seem to have the edge in image quality over the rest but we're talking micro-differences. They seem evenly matched, with quicker AF, richer colours and fine-tuning of focus in Live view for the sony and more reliable white balance and exposure algorithms on the Nikon- by that I mean out of 500 shots you might possibly have to adjust the Exposure and WB on 1 sony pic in post processing (takes about 60 seconds?) and you might, just might miss a shot about once every month if you're very unlucky with the Nikon. The Nikon has a constantly adjusting focus in video mode, which is a bonus if it workes well, but the Sony has 190% of the battery life. I do like the multi-exposure in twilight setting on the Sony (but the Nikon might have it too), which allows quick-capture of micro-moments in bars etc.
I am glad I undertook this search as it means that whichever one I get, I know I'm not short-changing myself. As to lens choice, I'm sure there will be enough to choose from no matter which model I buy. I only want a couple.