Slipping neatly into the company's dSLR product line between the XSi and the 40D, the Canon EOS Rebel T1i (aka the 500D elsewhere in the world) pushes the XTi off the edge of the bed into discontinuity. Joined by models like the Nikon D5000 and the Olympus E-620 in that $800-to-$900-with-lens market segment, it's not quite a budget model; more for the entry-level buyer who wants higher resolution and a better AF system, and perhaps video, than you can get for $700.
Since the body is almost identical to the XSi, including the 1.2-pound weight, the shooting experience is unsurprisingly similar. On that camera, I complained that the plastic body felt a bit cheap and I wasn't crazy about the grip, but I suppose I've gotten used to it for this class of camera in the year since that review. Overall, it's comfortable and feels solid enough. It keeps the same large, fixed 3-inch LCD; more models in this class are offering smaller but articulated LCDs, which is starting to make this seem like a competitive disadvantage. Almost all the buttons lie under your right hand, and each feels slightly different so that you can grope them without looking. None requires two-handed operation: when you push the button to change ISO, white balance, metering, and so on, the menu persists while you navigate the options.
While the modes on the dial remain mostly unchanged, there's now a dedicated movie selection. Having it on the dial makes jumping between stills and movies more awkward than necessary; the dedicated Live View button doubles as a record stop/start when in movie mode. Canon also added the Creative Auto mode that debuted in its higher-end models, but which makes a lot more sense in this one. CA is a semimanual mode with capabilities you can view as an advanced Auto mode or dumbed-down Program mode, depending upon your viewpoint. All functions in CA are automated, with a few exceptions. Notably, it replaces shutter and aperture adjustment options with two sliding scales--Exposure (brighter/darker) and Background (blurred/sharp)--that implicitly adjust shutter speed and aperture. It's an interesting approach for beginners who'd like to take some chances.
It also retains My Menu, which lets you build a go-to list of the most frequently accessed menu settings--in my case, for instance, format and metering settings. Canon has finally also adopted the capability to directly change most shooting settings via the information display on the LCD.