1) what happened to viewfinders? why only lcd's now?
Cost saving and probably most people fine with the LCD.
3) any benefit of recording in 1280x720 or 1920x1080 if the video will be transferred to a dvd (720x480)?
Depends on the bitrate used the to record at the particular resolution. Higher initial bitrate may yield a better DVD.
4) any benefit of recording in avchd instead of mp4 if video will be transferred to dvd?
A lot depend on the implementation and the bitrate. On my GF-1 AVCHD "*really* sucks" with fast moving content while good ol' mpeg just simply "sucks"
I wish there were a camcorder where I could set the amount of compression.
5) do all camcorders now only let you record in 20-30 intervals per file instead of one continuous recording?
Many allow you to record up to 4 GB, however long that may be.--
Wacky Races 2012!