I've always had tape based cameras ( wedding videos as a hobby ), I currently have a canon HV30 (in your price range). You can produse SD or HD video on miniDv.
You will hear about tape being bad, and will die out next year, but your still able to buy VHS tapes, right?
I come across sooooooo many forums of people wondering what to do with all of thier video files, once their computer HD fill up. Also what to do now, that their compter HD has failed and they can't recover thier videos. To me , that's real scarey.
They Canon HV30 or current HV40 are within your price range.
If you want to go with a Flash, SD or hardDrive camera Canon has several in yout price range. But for lowlight, it will be a little harder. I'm a lowlight freak. I use to get mad when I spend 3-400 dollars on a camera, that produced terrible video in my home, under lowlight conditions ( a few lamps). Find a camera that specify manual controls. If the camera has a low light setting that will only produce a ghost like effect.
But the Canon HV awsome.
I'm still on tape (I know, I know - so very 10 years ago!) but wanting to move up to the latest technology that performs well at a reasonable price between $400 - $800. Here are a few of thoughts:
1) Relatively affordable media and easy archiving. Recording time should be similar (60 mins per MiniDV). I vacation often and wouldn't want to be "stuck for space" and having to delete memories while on my 2-week trip to Italy.
2) Great video quality and ability to capture stop action photos. HD is nice but not a must.
3) Captures action shots without the "jerky" or "blurred" images and works pretty darn well in low light.
4) Some editing features are nice but not a must. I tend to do the "fun stuff" - fades, cuts, titles, etc with editing software.
5) Decent audio without the "hum" captured on the recording? (My old CANON ZR10 had a faint but high-pitched squeal). Also the ability to mount a light or mic.
I love my Canon - had it 10 years - but its dying so its time for a change.