What to look for in HD camcorder?

Hope this is the most appropriate section...

We're expecting a baby boy this summer and that's got me all excited to go out and buy a 1080p camcorder. However, I'm almost totally unknowledgeable as to what to look for.

1) Is there a brand to stay away from? (sony, JVC, sanyo, canon)
2) I assume they all have microphones (although stereo mics are more $$$)
3) Do they all record in mpeg4? Or does it vary greatly?
4) From what I've read, they all seem to use Lithium Ion batteries as well. Is it like a PS3 controller, where after 4-5 years, you have to buy an entire new unit?

These are just some thoughts and questions I have... Please feel free to add your own. I'd like to hear from some HD camcorder owners directly if possible. I'm in the $600-800 price range CAN. I'm not so much interested in the fancy effects or photographic quality... just really good video and decent sound.

Thanks in advance!
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More about what camcorder
  1. Hi,
    I don't know if you still need help with your camera buying but I have a very helpful article for your situation.
    http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-camcorders/4321-6500_7-6617259.html?tag=centerColumnArea1.1
    I hope that helps, and congrats on the baby.
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