There are plenty of threads on this subject. In your price range I believe you will have better choices, and you will get superior image quality down the line for burning DVDs. Portability isn't everything IMO.
I have been researching camcorders for the last few weeks and have decided to get a standard definition camcorder (I do not have a Blu-Ray drive, or an HDTV). We're moving to another country (Nepal) in a few months, so I want something that travels well and would be reasonably sturdy. Mainly I will be using it for footage of our child, and will be burning DVDs to send to family back home, and posting clips online for them to see also. As she grows up I'll also use it for performances, soccer games, etc. I'll also use it for when we travel around the country to give people back home a feel for what our surroundings and work are like. My budget is around $300-400.
Initially I decided to go for a flash-based camcorder so that I don't have to deal with moving parts, or have to pack a bunch of tapes or miniDVDs with me (these may be available in Kathmandu, but I am not 100% sure on that). I have been looking at the Canon FS100 and the Panasonic SDR-H40. I like the feel of the Canon in my hand, but when I tested it out at the store I was unhappy with the image stabilization. I have a little bit of a hand tremor, and when I use the zoom the shaking is too prominent. I know I can use a tripod but I feel like that defeats the purpose of a small, compact camcorder. The Panasonic's OIS seemed to work a lot better, but I have not been able to find much online about the video quality. The shaking is more of an issue with extreme zooms - do most of you even use the long end of your zooms often? I have never owned a camcorder so I don't know how useful the long zoom is to begin with, or how much of my footage will be on that end of the zoom. If anyone has input on these two, I would appreciate it - or if you have recommendations on other models I would be happy to hear them.
In the last few days, however, I have been starting to think about miniDV. In researching online and looking at sample clips, I know that the video quality is much better with miniDV than with flash-based. However, I would much rather pack 2 or 3 SDHC cards with me when we move overseas than a bunch of tapes. I do have FireWire on my laptop (a Lenovo Thinkpad R61 with 3GB RAM, 160 GB hard drive and a fast processor). I also have a 500 GB external hard drive to back up videos if I get a flash-based camcorder, but I know those things are prone to breaking. I can burn DVDs to back-up the footage, but I have read that I will lose quality if I do that - is that correct? I like that with tapes, I don't have to worry so much about losing my footage due to hardware malfunctioning, but they are also much less portable than SD cards.
I'm sure I will have more questions, but I can start there and would appreciate any feedback.