I recently struggled through the somewhat agonizing decision-making process of researching, choosing, and buying a new HD camcorder to replace an ancient Sony clunker that I bought a whole five years ago. In technological terms, that’s a lifetime! We’re talking full-frame, standard-resolution, mono-aural memories. My seven-year-old watches video of past birthdays and asks, “Daddy, what’s wrong with the TV?”

The decision to upgrade to an HD video camera was easy not only because of my child’s discerning taste but also because our home has embraced HD content fairly heartily. We jumped on the HDTV pretty early and drooled over HD cable content. I’ve immersed myself—way too often, my wife would say—in HD gaming on the Xbox 360. (Have you played Call of Duty 4 yet? Holy crap!) And before HD DVD tanked, yes, I bought a player and now have a nice little library of two dozen cheaply purchased HD DVDs that I’ll enjoy for years. So it was only a matter of time before I demanded that my family’s recorded memories feature HD-quality sight and sound.

My decision-making process required significant head-scratching. Should I go with a tape-based, hard-drive-based, or DVD-based camera? I came this close to choosing a hard-drive model, but then I asked myself the rather obvious, deal-breaking question, “Where will I store all my large HD video files?” I like the notion of the hard-drive-based camera, but I didn’t want to also invest in a huge storage server. At least, not yet. And what of the DVD-based camera? Would DVDs, in the end, be as reliable a storage medium as tape? I finally decided that my best bet was the tried-and-true tape-based camera.

After further research and forum-trolling and review-gazing, I landed on the Canon HV20, a nifty little powerhouse that actually cost less than my original standard-def Sony behemoth. I’ve recorded about an hour’s worth of HD video and tested it on the HDTV—truly astounding. This is the kind of camera that makes me want to become a better filmmaker.

What kind of camera to you use to record your memories? I know I have some very large HD files to content with in my future, and editing them will be a little more time-consuming. But I can’t get over the Wow factor of playing these videos for family and friends who visit. And when my daughter turns 8, she can rest assured that I’ll capture every detail of the celebration.