That's not entirely true. The stock battery can be replaced. I replaced the stock 800 mAH battery on my JVC with a 2800 mAH unit and now it goes for 4.5 hours on a full charge.
To select a camera based on battery life with the supplied battery is ... a little shortsighted.
I'll be off in February for an extended trip all over the pacific. I'd like to bring along a camcorder to record the adventure. My problem is that I know zero about camcorders (other than what I've been able to pick up in the last week of researching them). I need portability (small=good), long battery life, durability (we'll be in tropical and desert environs so moisture and dust can be an issue), I'm looking to spend in the $400-$600, miniDV, tending towards sony as I've heard their battery life is the best and I already have a sony digital cam. Any advice would be hugely appreciated!! Thanks in advance.