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The first thing I should say is that, yes, the HV-10 is expensive. The second thing is that it's probably worth it.
Even just using the basic camera out of the box, I was astounded by the quality of the recordings. The hi-def video is crystal clear with no detectable blur during playback either through the built-in mini-screen or through the TV, and the audio (recorded through the onboard mic) was clear to the point of being slightly unsettling. It picked up absolutely everything. I had to start actively considering what was making a noise in the room before shooting, just so I didn't get any unwanted rumblings coming through the mic.
It was also surprisingly tough. I was stupid enough to get the damage insurance when I bought mine, so my care with the camera wasn't exactly stellar, but through various bumps, screen-twists and one particularly vicious dog theft the camera remained functional and completed unimpaired throughout.
My only issues with it are that mine didn't come with a firewire cable, meaning I couldn't access the various rapid-video-download features available when connecting it to a computer, but this was - at best - a trivial concern as they're easily bought from most electronics retailers. And the battery life wasn't especially great. I think mine ended up clocking in at around 2hrs between charges; made all the worse if you're making extensive use of the flash for stills shots.