I bought a Panasonic one 6 months ago. The thing I liked the most is that it's a 3 CCD camcorder unlike others. Unless you go High Def, you can't get better quality out of miniDV than a 3 CCD Camera. It has very good zoom, decent night mode, it is true 16:9 wide screen ratio, and it even has image stabilizer. Plus, it only cost me about $400, which definitely fits your needs.
Here it is.
Digital Camcorders - PV-GS320 at Panasonic.com