Really? That's a bummer.
Yeah, its a shame. My Dad had a sony standard def mini-DV camera, and we were able to do good things over Firewire.
the DV codec is compressed but non-lossy.
With HD, there are multiple codecs in use, the most popular is AVCHD a version of H.264. Depending on make, it can be stored on optical(DVD), hard disk, internal memory, and removable memory (SD and sony memory stick etc). AVCHD is compressed and lossy (like JPEG for stills) but still very impressive, supporting 1920x1080p resolution.
AVCHD is a set of files, so all the HD camcorders I've seen you can either use a card reader, or a USB2 port to copy the files. Usefully my PS3 plays back the footage without hassle from my friends camera. Quality of image is stunning.
pro - on THFB - sync about 17.2mbps - BQM