just different, depending on your requirements and your computer.
MiniDV tape requires a firewire port on your computer. Without one, importing HDV will be impossible. If your computer has an expansion port, adding one is generally easy and cheap to do. If your computer already has a firewire port, then you need to get an appropriate firewire cable. The DV port on ALL miniDV tape based camcorders is always 4-pin. whether the other side of the firewire cable is 4-pin, 6-pin or 9-pin depends on your computer's firewire port. Lock the tape. Connect the camcorder, put it in Play mode launch the HDV-friendly video editor and import. One hour of DV takes one hour to import. One hour of HDV can take longer to import - depends on your computer's CPU. Do not re-use the tape. When done, store the tape in a cool dry place. It is your archive. Want it in 2 years? Go get it. Edit the project. Export back to the camcorder - you can use this as a finished project archive to digital tape. Export to another tape if you want - and use this to playback when connecting the camcorder to a HDTV... and watch in all of it's 1080i, high definition, glory. Firewire, IEEE1394, DV and i.LINK are all the same thing.
Other playback: This next piece is the same regardless of camcorder storage media:
Export to a computer readable file for uploading. (vimeo.com and YouTube take 720p, HD, h.264 files. File size and video length vary.) Render out to a h.264 file onto a single layer (4.7 gig) or double layer (8.5 gig) data DVD or BluRay disc (if you have a BluRay burner - The blank discs start at 25 gig, I think - they are expensive) for BluRay player or PS3 play-back. Render out to a standard definition DVD using a DVD authoring tool to create a regular DVD-player readable disc. Single layer (4.7 gig) blank DVDs can hold up to 120 minutes of standard definition video or double layer (8.5 gig) blank DVDs can hold up to 240 minutes of standard definition video - I usually back down about 10-15 minutes to allow for menu backgrounds and a soundtrack on the background.
Consumer flash memory and hard disc drive (HDD) camcorders generally save their data files to the same formats - highly compressed MPEG2 or very highly compressed AVCHD. Consumer DVD camcorders save to AVCHD files, too (a little more on VOB/VOR files will follow.) Consumer flash memory and HDD camcorders connect using USB and the digital video data files are copied (not imported) to the computer. Make a copy of these files... burn data DVDs, I guess. This is your "back-up". If you don't want to back up or archive the original video, skip this step - but no complaining when you want the video but it is gone because after the editing, the project files and the camcorder hard drive files are deleted to make room for more video... Under certain conditions, the video files need to be converted to a format the editor can handle before the editor can deal with the video. This generally means decompressing the video. When the video was compressed, video data was discarded. Decompressing adds (as "best guess") the discarded data. The editor or decompression utility takes care of this - you don't need to do anything. Decompression can take time or not - again, this is CPU dependent. If you want to watch the finished project in high definition, what are you planning to watch with? I understand Sony's utility allows export back to the camcorder and using the HDD or flash memory camcorder as the playback deck - I have not seen it work (I have not tried it). Otherwise, go to the "Other playback" paragraph, above. There is no "using the DVD AVCHD camcorder" as the edited project play back deck - of which I am aware. I suppose it is possible, but since I believe DVD based camcorders barely make good doorstops, I don't care.
HDD based camcorders have known issues with high levels of vibration - this can come from REALLY loud audio - bands, whether amplified or not, REALLY loud crowds and REALLY loud engines, etc. HDD based camcorders have known issues with high altitude - generally about 9,800 feet and above. There is not enough air pressure for the hard drive heads to "fly" across the platters. In both cases, the result will be the camcorder's sensors parking the hard drive heads so they do not damage the hard drive platters in the camcorder. Yes, these are extreme conditions, but since I never know when or where I will need/want to capture video, I minimize potential issues and don't deal with the. MiniDV tape and flash memory do not share these issues. (And I don't care about consumer DVD camcorders, so I don't know if they have this issue or not).
HDD camcorder's advantage is that they can take many hours of video without reloading storage media. You will need power (from the wall or a few high capacity rechargeable batteries) well before you run out of hard drive space (if you started with a clean internal drive). With miniDV tape (60 minute or 80 minute SP length tapes) or flash memory (varying sized cards), the media are small enough to just carry spare blanks. Fill one, pop it out, lock it, pop in a new one and resume recording. MiniDV tape swap takes me about 8 seconds. You should also consider additional batteries for these, too.
DVD based camcorders record standard definition video, generally to miniDVD (8cm) discs. The very highly compressed VOB/VOR files are typically about 20 minutes per single sided disc (for High Quality). If you are not planning to edit, this might be an OK way to go. Double sided discs double that - but you need to take the disc out and re-insert manually. Getting the video off the disc typically requires a drawer loading DVD player and use of a DVD ripper. The ripper decompresses the highly compressed video and converts the video file to something the editor can deal with. Of the available consumer video storage methods, this is the most highly compressed method (and results in the lowest quality video for editing). I have not yet seen the USB connection between a consumer DVD based camcorder and the computer actually work. I no longer will transfer files for neighbors/friends who expected me to "make the video better". Once the file is ripped to the format the video editor likes, go to the "Other playback" paragraph, above.
Whenever you export or "render", you are making a version of the video data file that needs to be created frame by frame. Lots of compression as the last step of the process will take the video to a file size required by the playback method. Compressing to a media player file size or a small window computer screen size that looks good there will not be appropriate for a larger window computer data file playback or full-screen HDTV playback. Larger window computer data file playback or full-screen HDTV playback will require much less compression for "best video quality". Good computer playback of high definition requires a current, fast, CPU and lots of hard drive space (including lots of available hard drive space). Lots of the compression as the FIRST step when capturing the video is merely discarding data. The least amount of compression as the first step will go a long way to best available video quality for all the different files rendered downstream in the process.
Video is very complex. Once you get the process associated with your camcorder storage media, it is what it is. Video editors have varying degrees of difficulty depending on what you want to work with and create. But... in my opinion... "easy" is not quite relevant when comparing the different storage methods - they are merely "different". The discussion point, when comparing similarly priced consumer camcorders, is whether you want "best available video quality" (generally DV/HDV); slightly reduced video quality (flash memory or HDD) or "art" (DVD based standard definition video).
The first time you do ANYTHING remotely complex, it is not "easy". With video editing, the camera is merely a part of the entire process. Think through which video quality makes sense for you and jump in. There is nothing inherently easy or hard about doing anything - when you think it through, take the time to learn the process AND use the right tools for the job.