I've started using one of these (MBED developer board). The big selling points for me were that I could code in C or C++, straightforward connection vis USB and a slick on-line development environment (no local tool installation required at all!).
Five minutes afer opening box I had a sample blinky program (the 'hello world' of the emedded world) running the following:
myled = 1;
myled = 0;
That's it! Above is the complete program!
It's based on ARM Cortex M3, fast and plenty of memory for embedded projects (100mhz, 256k flash & 32k ram). The online dev tools have a very good library and plenty of examples and theres a very active forum. Plenty of help on connecting devices to MBED etc
Even though I have plenty of experience with embedded systems (ARM 7/9, Renases M8/16/32, Coldfire, Zilog, PIC etc) I still found this a refreshingly easy system to get to grips with while having serious capability.
After initially playing with it on a basic breadboard I bought a base board from these guys: http://www.embeddedartists.com/products/lpcxpresso/xpr_base.php?PHPSESSID=lj20urpsh9isa0c8ddcfmmn207. This has a pile of I/O devices (including a miniture OLED and a 3axis accelerometer). From the same site I also bought one of the LCPExpresso processor boards which is cheap, less power/memory than the MBED but perfect for smaller jobs (still hammers the crap out of PIC/Atmega processors). The base board supports both the LCPExpresso and the MBED. Purchasing the LCPExpress processor board also got me me an attached JTAG debugger and an offline dev envoronment (Code Red's GCC/Eclipse based dev kit). This is much more complex than the online MBED dev environment but is a logical progression after you've gained expeience with the MBED.
With reference to my original point noite that the MBED controller is much more capable than the the LPCExpresso controller BUT is much simpler to use and learn with.