3-WAY COMPARISON -- just raw footage, no special settings. Zooming in and out, some indoors, some outside. I'm sure that a pro could make any camera look awesome, but these are just random shots, posted for comparison. The first clips are Aiptek, followed by HV20, then HD1000.
Also, the Aiptek footage is 88mb, the HV20 is 1.38gb, the HD1000 was 439mb... all for basically the same amout of footage, give or take a few seconds.
Aiptek $129 average: actually looks pretty good against these two giant "prosumer" (ok, I finally got a chance to use that word....) models. Only has 2x digital zoom (more realistic than the 4x advertised on it's package) and average-to-poor audio, which wasn't real apparent in this clip. Took about 5 seconds to upload the card.
Canon $650 average: Starts in "auto", then I switch to "24p Cinemode", then back to auto again. Cam focuses really, noticeably fast, but still sometimes "hunts" for focusing.
Biggest noticeable feature is it's OIS (optical image stabilizer) that works great. I tried the manual focus with the little wheel near the lens a few times, consulting back and forth with the manual, but can't seem to get any significant thing to happen... took about 20 minutes to upload the tape by firewire.
HD1000 $650 average: Favorite due to features and small size and portability. EIS (electronic image stabilizer) isn't super great, but the ease of use, quick load onto the computer and edit, and many features make it my first choice. The macro and manual focus are fun... took about 20 seconds to upload the sd card.
All these clips are taken within about 60 minutes of each other, cloudy day here in Texas.