yeah, if your total budget is $600 then give the canon elura 100 a look. when you get done buying extra batteries, a 1-2 year mack warranty,external mic, adobe premier elements,ect you'll be close or well over. you'll only be able to find refurbs or used ones on places like ebay but it's a small,well featured camera with very good image quality plus has a mic input which is rare even in more $ cameras. it was 2006 camera of the year.
I picked a up elura 100 a couple months ago to see if video was something I wanted to mess around with. pretty fun. very happy with the quality.
the big drawback to small cameras especially the elura is motor noise that gets picked up by the on camera mic. I use a $35 external mic when audio matters. big improvement but a little bit of a pain in the ass too.
go to camcorderinfo.com too. great resource.
Also,do yourself a favor and edit with adobe premiere elements.very stable. picked up the 2.0 version on ebay for $50. works great.