Recommend Canon VIXIA HG20
Great camera. The biggest flaw is not the 60 gb drive which is bigger than you will ever need, or the menu interface which is easy, intuitive and user friendly, the biggest flaw is the lack of the view finder on this camera. Big deal you say, its got a modern screen instead of a view finder, but that modern screen in really bright sunlight kinda washes out (like all those screens do) and might lead you to adjust the settings or force you to trust your autoexposure when you are taking those priceless outdoor shots. The hg 21 has the eye piece viewfinder which is a reliable indicator of what you are shooting in those conditions, but for the extra 300 USDs it's hard to justify. The AF is super in this camera, no distiguishable periods "out of focus" as you rapidly zoom in and out. Also the head set or yellow AV jack, is a must have. Ever record tons of footage and find out the only thing you can hear is the wind buffetting your microphone? Record wearing regular ipod type headphones and you don't have to review the footage to find out if you have the shot. Don't get a camcorder without that or the mic input which this camera has. Terrific simultaneous video record and still photo to the regular full size SD card, cool, works great. Requires class 4 SD card, the speedy type. I think the HG21 with the 120 gb has tons of storage, but it's overkill and takes longer to do a full hard drive clean than the 60gb hg20, but both have a quick clean function for the hard drive. Finally don't expect much from the packaged software if you really want to edit. Corel has pro x2 which works great for avchd. Last thing is the battery. It charges when the camera is pugged in and it works great. I was made to believe that this camera is useless without an external charger and tons of extra batteries, which is not true, 95 min is good. Or just stay plugged to the wall. As a guy who typically struggles with technology, I hope all my "research" helps some one else and as the owner of the hg20 this camera delivers and is simple for anyone to use.
24Mbps offers the highest bit rate in AVCHD for High Definition video - enabling improved color reproduction and tonality
Record up to 22 hours of High Definition video to a 60 GB Hard Disk Drive
Includes a genuine Canon 12x High Definition video lens
Comes with a 3.3 megapixel full HD CMOS sensor (1920 x 1080) and a DIGIC DV II image processor
Features Canon's SuperRange optical image stabilizer
Price about $700