is able to shoot at least 1080i. While there are many such cameras around, the two I know something about are the Canon HV 20 (about $1,000) and the Canon XH-A1 (about $3,500). While the HV 20 draws much favorable comment, your objective points strongly to the XH-A1. While I could look up numbers for you, you can see them for yourself at the B&H Photo and Video web site. Just find the camera via search, click on the description to get detail, and click on the specifications tab.
If you are not already aware of what is needed to produce commercial quality DVDs, you can start thinking about things like high quality lighting and sound, and a very good lense attached to a very good camera. The XH-A1, or its more expensive sibling the XL-H1, are probably good enough to shoot some of the video on a DVD, but even more expensive cameras do most of the work at the commercial level. It's a substantial investment in time, and equipment to reach that level.
For an engineer who is NOT a videophile, I have a simple question: what camcorder do I need (in terms of pixels, number of CCD sensors, etc.) to get DVD quality video with 16:9 aspect ratio?
The quality I get from DVDs -- for me -- is fabulous (I watch rental DVD movies with an upconverting DVD player feeding into a Sony SXRD HDTV set via an HDMI cable). I want that quality in my camcorder videos, no more.
I read the CNET reviews and I see SD and I see HDTV. Do I want SD? But careful, because I certainly don't want NTSC quality, let alone VHS quality (my guess is that DVD is 2-3 times better than NTSC and 4-8 times better than std-speed VHS, just within the 4:3 form). Nowhere in the reviews do I see "this will give you DVD-equivalent video". I see it in the HD camcorders, where it tells you 720P, 1080I or 1080P, but not for non-HD camcorders.
Final question: if I opt for an HD camcorder and record in HD mode, is it easy to downconvert to DVD quality if I want to burn a DVD disc to give to friends who don't have HD/BlueRay players?