Given that your target application is the production of video for internet-based distribution, I'd strongly encourage you to consider tapeless acquisition. MiniDV is indeed a very popular and robust format, so much so that when I bought a camcorder for my mother a couple of years ago it was a MiniDV, however the paradigm there is somewhat different. Her mode of operation is to shoot a tape, then remove it, stick a label on it, and put it on the shelf. When it comes to PC-based editing, there is nothing more tedious and off-putting than having to stream all your video from the camera to the PC in realtime over the firewire port before you can edit it- to the point where you'll eventually start "forgetting" to do it.
I also understand the objection to hard-disk based cameras, though I'm not sure I fully agree with the logic of it. I mean, iPods have hard drives in them, and they survive jogging.
Consider however that many mid-range cameras now shoot directly onto SD or CF media. As such, you don't have a capacity limit like with a HD camera, since you can just carry an extra card or two in your pocket. And frankly, the capacity of modern SD/CF cards is pretty much equal to the size of the hard disks that most drive-based cams are coming with.
The nice thing here being that after you're done shooting you just pop the card out of the camera and into the PC, and you've got direct access to your files. No downloading.
I did a very cursory survey, and came up with a couple of potential candidate, all of which have optical zoom, and none of which have an eyepiece (those are getting rare):
No first-hand experiance with any of these, just examples of a genre. I've used other Aiptek hardware before, and they're basically what they look like- very cheaply made, but adequate in terms of quality.
The nice thing about the current incarnation of Windows' media is that it's pretty format-agnostic. So long as you've got the right codec, it doesn't really matter what software you edit in relative to what encoding form your video came from. For example, I use Adobe Premiere, which doesn't come bundled with anything- you just install the right codecs and premiere wil treat any piece of video equally.
Output is going to be tricky. You want high quality with small filesize.
Frankly, the compression scheme that YouTube uses is actually pretty darn good. You have to keep in mind that a lot of their stuff already looked like crap when a user uploaded it.
The highest quality codecs you're going to find, in my opinion, are the DivX and XviD implementations of the Mpeg-4 library. They are used almost exclusively by the Torrent community, and to give you an example, an hour long program encoded to take up 300 megs, when viewed on my 55" HDTV set, comes across as "pretty darn good", while one encoded to 700 megs is "damn near DVD quality."
When you encode your final output, you'll choose a particular codec to use, and you'll specify the parameters you want to apply in terms of quality vs. size. One trick you can pull is to reduce the resolution of the output file. All else being equal, I tend to find it preferable, for a given filesize, to run a lower resoltion (down to maybe 320x240) in order to use a less aggressive compression scheme.
The thing to keep in mind here is that this all has virtually nothing to do with what camera you shot on and what your source file format was. Good editing software will take in any video format (including the mixing of formats within a project) and then output in any format and codec you wish. Just shoot the original source material at the highest quality possible (the lowest compression you can), and make your tradeoffs at the end.