First what I would not recommend...
This format was developed for the user that wanted quick and easy viewing of their footage on their TV without using the camera for playback.
Also for sharing the movie with friends and family (IE, pop the disk in the Mail)
Mostly to appeal to the same consumers that preferred VHS-C over Video 8.
It was a good idea when flash memory was several hundreds of dollars for 1 GB
Hybrids (HDD+flash memory) are no longer that useful because of the large size memory cards and the low price.
(however at the high end of the amateur range the Pana HS 300 is very nice)
Mini DV. Great value for money, easy to edit. Mini DV is the least compressed format and is recorded on individual "frames" The easiest to edit.
HDV. The High Def version. Same tape , but using MPEG2 compression, so the footage is recorded in groups of frames. Basically it means that during editing most frames have to be "built" from key frames.
You need a decent dual core processor and lots of video memory and RAM for this.
Somewhat still smoother picture than flash memory versions. ( 1x 60min tape is about 20GB)
Canon have the HV20/30/40 as a good example of this technology. ( as well as bigger semi-pro /pro models)
See also the Sony HVR-S270, HVR-Z7 and HVR-Z5
Standard and HD
Now that you can get a 32bg SD card, this is the emerging de facto "standard"
MPEG 4 type compression (AVCHD/H264) , very aggressive and hard to edit. (see comments in the HDV section, add a bit more grunt)
At the lower end you can get very small and relatively robust models including the weatherised Pana SW20 and Sanyo CA9
The top end has similar models from Canon/Pana and Sony to their tape versions.
With this format the most troublesome parts of a video camera (transport, ejection mechanism, head wear ) have been eliminated.
The only moving parts are in the lens block.