1) It is a DVD storage camcorder... not a "hard drive deal".
2) Since it stores video to DVDs, it needs DVDs to store video - sorry, I can't figure out a way to put this... Hence, no DVD, no video capture. It was never advertised to be a "hybrid" to capture video to DVD or memory card. If the salesman told you that, then you should return it for a full refund as it was misrepresented.
3) The memory stick is for stills - that is how that camcorder was designed. See "#2 - returning the camcorder", above...
4) DVD based camcorders provide the worst available quality. Next best are hard drive and some flash memory camcorders - and best video quality comes from miniDV tape based camcorders.
All Consumer camcorders are "simple" and make short videos. Whether they can stand your hiking trips is up to you - they are pretty sophisticate pieces of electronics, and rough handling is not normally advised.
I would suggest something like a Canon ZR800. It is miniDV tape based, and if you break the camcorder, it is cheap to replace.
Guys, I just purchased a Sony dvd610 has the hard drive deal. Any ways how come I cant make a video without a cd rom if I purchased the memory stick. I paid $60.00 for the memory stick and it says the only thing I can put on there is still images! What a load of crap! I wanted a camera that I can understand(Simple) and make short videos and be able to stand my hiking trips. Any one have any recomendations for a camera for me? I'm returning my Sony today. I was not impressed with Sonys tech support.