Just my humble opinion,
First things first. I would suggest you don't buy a MiniDV camera right now. HD technology has changed substantially pretty fast, so go for a digital format, SDs and CF cards are much better/cheaper. They will save you some trouble/give you better quality image. (if it's your intention to buy a MiniDV then don't mind me).
Picking a camera is complicated, there are many things you have to consider (format, compression, sensor size, low-light performance, ease of use, etc it all depends on you). However, for the price you're saying, I'd say two pretty nice/versatile HD camcorders are the Canon HF G20, and the XA 20 (this one's a little over your budget though, but it's newer, has better audio quality, and a slightly better chip). These cameras feature:
good quality HD image
extra batteries can be bought cheap if you're planning to shoot for long periods
take two SD cards, so you don't have to be changing constantly
32gb internal memory (don't rely only on this though)
microphone input (the XA supports XLRs)
Nice LCD/electronic viewfinder
Nice focus ring
You can shoot 24, 30, 60p
Just remember these are prosumer camcorders, if you want something professional, I'd say you'd have to go for at least $1500
Best of luck!