Timing could not be better for this question
I am going down the same road as I am doing more and more videos but on a super tight budget so purchased a used Sony miniDV camcorder to step up cheaply. It has SD for stills but miniDV for video.
And here I am, with a newer laptop PC unable to download the video so I can edit. I have no express card slot so most adapters won't fit (unless you know of one...?). USB/firewire is no good as you point out (I haven't tried it but enough other folks have and kindly shared their experience). So.....where does one go? Is the Sony DVDirect the only reliable way to go?
(suddenly some of the money I saved is going out the door other ways...sigh)