I'm thinking of getting one, mainly to take videos of the kids, but it also just seems like it might be fun to play with one. They've been coming down in price and going up in features, so it seems like it might finally be worth buying one. I'm currently looking at the Canon Optura 600 and the Panasonic PV-GS240 as my top two choices; they seem to have the best combination of features and price, although both are (unfortunately) MiniDV tape camcorders. I looked briefly at the JVC Everio line of HD-based camcorders, but I heard mediocre things about them at best, and I'm also theoretically looking at the JVC GR-X5, but it's both too expensive and not getting good enough reviews to warrant a top-2 spot, I think.
Ideally, I'd like one with a HD, but they all seem to suck. The ones that use memory cards seem ok, but they don't hold much and they're expensive - the best MicroDrive camcorder right now (the JVC GZ-MC500) is $1500 and, even with a top-of-the-line 6G MD, only holds 1.5 hours of video on a card. Just not reasonable.
So, back to MiniDV camcorders. My requirements: under $1000, good quality video, ability to plug into a computer, easy to hold and use while still having some manual control. Basically a "hobbyist" type of camcorder, not a high-end one, but not a piece of crap one either. If I'm going to spend money on something, I'd like to get something with some longevity.
The Canon Optura 600 is very small and compact, but a little more pricey. The Panasonic PV GV250 is larger, but cheaper. Both seem to get good reviews overall.
Anyone have any info, feedback on what I've found, comments to make in general, links to their favorite sites, personal experience, etc. etc. etc.? If so, lemme know! If I get this, it'll be in the near future, and if not, I probably won't buy for another year and just hold out until the HD-based camcorders stop sucking. So, "now or never" is a fairly accurate description.