My wife wants a camcorder. The last time I had any sort of recording equipment in my hands was a Super 8 film movie camera around 1975. Times have dramatically changed!

So what is a good brand, format; dvd, mini dv, hard drive and or memory card, model number for a ball park price of $500?

Just for general purpose videoing with playback to dvd either directly to dvd or burn to dvd. Must have good or better picture quality.