Isn't standard definition close to being obsolete? Even if you don't have an HD TV set, the images form a downsampled HD camcorder will look closer to true SD broadcast quality on an SD TV set.
SD may be close to being obsolete but it is a higher quality than almost anything on the web. So if web is the destination, an SD capture system is a good place to start. If the 16:9 format is what is desired, HDV is great since as you say, the down-rezzed HDV>DV is the best looking DV around. But remember that media players like Apple's iPod have screens that are 4:3 and a 16:9 signal does not use their full screen real estate.
I have no real knowledege or experience with smaller video digicams but I will suggest that you won't go far wrong with almost anything by Canon or Sony . . .