I found the reviews at http://reviews.cnet.com/ and http://www.amazon.com/ helpful.
We couldn't afford the higher end camcorders, so I was looking for something under $200.
The top contenders were the
- Flip UltraHD (cnet link) / Flip UltraHD Camcorder (amazon link)
- Kodak Zi8 Pocket Video Camera (cnet link) / Kodak Zi8 Pocket Video Camera (amazon link)
The biggest things I was interested in were :
- ease of use (I won't use it if I have to fiddle with it while I chase down the 2 year old who escaped because I was messing with the camcorder)
- extended ease of use (how long the battery lasts before needing recharged / plugging into our computer / recording to DVD off computer / how clear the video will look when we *eventually* buy a new, bigger TV)
After reading the reviews, we'll end up buying the Kodak Zi8 from Walmart with an extra SD card for around $200.
Edited to add : We got to Walmart and Dave thought the Zi8 looked too small to handle. After all my research, I had to do it all over again. Dave gave me an amount he was willing to spend and I researched around that amount. We ended up buying a Sony Handycam from Target for ~$350. It was the size and price Dave wanted. I liked Target's 90 day guarentee (if I didn't like the way it worked on my computer or tv or for any reason, I could bring it back in 90 days.)
We're happy with it and you'll be seeing videos from our vacation soon....