Here's one opinion Don. My opinions are based on the consumer reviews I read before purchasing my camcorder and my own experiences. I'll further qualify my comments by stating I purchased a Sony DVD201--as with any consumer decision I felt it met my desires and needs for camcorder usage.
I have no desire to edit anything. I don't edit my digital camera pics, nor do I want to. I choose to take images/footage that is correct as I can get it on my first attempt. I keep hearing that editing the family movies is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and for those that enjoy editing, I bet it is the ultimate. I use DVD-RW's so I can erase sorry footage I've taken before I finalize my disc. I say all this about editing b/c my understanding is that editing is 1,000x easier w/ miniDV formats vs. DVD.
A positive, specific to the Sony DVD201 is its ease of use in videoing. I'm sure other brands and formats may be just as easy. However, having read every consumer review I could put my eyes on, indicated that the Sony 201 was ridiculously easy to learn and use for videoing. I'm not a "gadget guy", nor do I like to read instruction manuals, and I found the Sony 201 as easy to use as people promised.
Lastly for positives, is "finalizing" a disc then popping it in my comuter DVD or "movie" DVD player and watching. Or I burn 5 DVDs/discs of our newborn child onto a full-size DVD and drop it in the mail to our in-laws (who live 5 and 7 hours away). Some consumer reviews, though very few, disliked the need to "finalize" a disc before popping into a computer or movie DVD player. I do not mind this extra 3-minute chore.
One negative is that the DVD-R's or -RW's are more expensive than mini-DV tapes. An additional negative for me is that my 2 Dell computers (one purchased in Jan. 04 and one in June 04) do not have DVD writers/recorders, only DVD readers. So I have spent an additional $100 on an external DVD writer.
And, yes, the DVD formats record about 1/2 as long as the mini-DV formats; therefore, more cost in recording media.
All in all, I can't spout any negatives about the mini-DV format b/c I've not used one. I can only state that I've immensely enjoyed my DVD camcorder in the very short time I've owned it. Again it suited my needs of ease of use and ease of watching the recordings. Someone who enjoys editing would likely do better w/ a mini-DV camcorder, however.
Please e-mail me at anytime Don, if you have more low-tech, basic questions.