An excellent views-based search page or block, free-text search, filters etc. Example at https://cathdev.web.cern.ch/extended-search
See http://nodeone.se/en/customized-search-page for screencast.
Note: to create a search block: in the View, click 'Advanced" and find 'Exposed Form". Select "yes" for "exposed form in block?". This then creates a block you can place anywhere, like a regular block.