George, this stuff could be argued on and on, but the reality is that Nikon does not have an "affordable" digital SLR body, and neither does the competition. Nikon just announced their thousand dollar digital, and it is not a SLR. Another reality is that many 35mm SLR users are buying non-SLR digitals, and not necessarily the same brand as their SLR's. And these new digital owners are using their 35mm SLR's less and less. It is entirely possible that Nikon never produces a digital SLR that has a CCD that is the same size as the 35mm frame. It is rare for digital components to get larger with time.
I personally do not see a middle ground in the future. I see the D1 types increasing in resolution with the same size CCD's, and I see the non-SLR's increasing in resolution and flexibility with their same size CCD. I don't see a new line of lenses introduced for digital SLR's either. The bulk of digital camera buyers are buying into digital photography as a new technology. The bulk of the profit for the manufacturers will be from this market segment. There will be a high end market of pros who need the new technology to mesh with existing (legacy?) technology, and are willing to pay whatever is required.
There is the prevailing sentiment that more is always better. But this is not necessarily true. Olympus has the E-10, which is a 4MP ZLR. Yet they also have the E100RS, which is a 1MP ZLR. The difference is that the E100RS is geared for speed. For newspaper use, 1MP is entirely adequate. (However, for low light action, digital is unable to compete with film.) There are some who would laugh out loud at the idea of a 1MP ZLR being called a "pro" camera, but that is basically what the E100RS is. The E10 costs around 1500, but Olympus also has the C4040, a 4MP non-SLR, for 899 list. The E20 was just introduced, 5MP for 1999 list. I don't see a slot for a SLR there. What did Canon just introduce? It's answer to the D1, of course. NOT an "affordable" SLR.
If I were you, I would go down to the nearest Barnes&Noble, or whatever you have near you, and buy this month's issue of every digital photography-related magazine they have. Then spend the upcoming long holiday weekend learning all about it. I can tell that you are going to be buying a digicam soon, and I already know you will use it a bunch. But you probably won't want to sell your N80.