Perhaps I was too harsh in my criticism. You can adjust the mic gain when you are not using the full auto setting, basically you put the camera into "Program" mode (like in a DSLR) instead of "Auto", and you have better control. Main problem is that you have to know what you are doing. You can switch on a good sound meter on-screen. Looks like it works very well. OK for us techno-geeks, not OK for your spouse. You can set the mic sensitivity before you start shooting a scene and then the gain does not ramp up all the way to recording the camera's sound when there is no dialogue. I suppose I may get the directional mic that slips into the hot shoe, and perhaps that will be good enough for kids' parties on full auto. Have to play around with the camera a bit more. On the image side you do have all the usual modes, Program, Av, Tv, backlight, snow, beach, modes, etc. The instant backlight button is great! No need to fumble through menus. Also has various White Balance settings, including Custom. Sufficient manual control on everything for techno-geeks at my level.
For editing I was thinking of using Ulead's Studio 11 Plus, provided they incorporate downloading from the HV20, rumoured to be on the way. Seems to get the best reviews for HD at this juncture. I am shortly off on a 2-month trip and will worry about editing when I get back. Things seem to be changing very rapidly. By the way, connecting the camera to a TV for playback via HDMI is a pleasure, no more fumbling with multiple plugs.
The camera has a "cinema" mode that has a nice look, colours more muted, warmer/brownish than the normal setting that has high saturation and is "vivid", just like in the HD demos you see in the stores. I suppose the best way to describe the "cinema" look is that it reminds me of The Godfather films. A "deliberate" story-telling style. The P25 mode introduces frame smears and/or jerkiness when there is a lot of action, eg in fast pans. I do not like it, feeling that it is rather pretentious, emulating the deficiencies of film shooting. My own human vision does not smear, so why should I chase smearing other than going for a retro look. Like Sepia, also included. Each to his own tastes. In low lighting the shutter speed becomes longer and the smearing gets worse with P25. Nevertheless you do gain something like a full f-stop in exposure (maybe more?) and probably worthwhile when you are shooting under very dim conditions. I do not think I will ever use P25 except for the low light situation to get the extra f-stop (in longer shutter speed). Interestingly, in bright scenes without too much action, you can view P25 and normal intercuts without noticing that you have switched the scan mode.