I would recommend staying away from DVD-based camcorders. If the poor video image quality is no concern to you, then buy it. It is not a question of whether this particular camera is good or bad - the issue is with any DVD-based camcorder.

Also, as you read through these forums you will find lots of folks experiencing problems with transferring their DVD video to a computer for editing. Yes, there have been some successes - but too much frustration.

Why aren't you interested in a hard drive based camcorder? Their video image quality is much better than the DVD-based machines. File transfer is easier. And you won't find many posts in these forums complaining about transfer problems.

MiniDV tape continues to offer the best available image quality - and the biggest problems are the manufacturers don't include a FireWire cable in the box with the camera - or the person does not have a FireWire port on their computer (typically easily added). And if you believe miniDV - digital tape - is "old technology", then you are mistaking a successful, digital, proven, media that happens to have been around a few years, and will continue to be around for a long time - with analog tape... they are very different in the way they store information.

If you truly "want the best technology in the under $500 range" you should not use a DVD-based camcorder "to place audio videos of on-site residential and commercial real estate construction sites on my webpages" or "conference and training videos".

Storing stills from your Mavica and storing video have very different requiremnets for compression - hence, quality.