Unfortunately, I feel that tape is at the end of its lifespan for Video recording. I also like it, and for the reasons that you list. The real-time Capture was a bit of a drawback (really bothered some, more than others), but I used that time to make notes to help me in the editing later.
The tapeless workflow is here to stay, IMHO. More NLE (Non Linear Editor) programs now support tapeless (though there are still specific digital media files that will not be accepted by all NLE's), and pretty seamlessly.
Of course, I predicted the total demise of DVD-Video, once BD was sorted out. That did not happen, and for various reasons.
Good luck in your decision,
>inexpensive way of archiving my raw footage
The price may never be as low as putting a used tape in a box (but, I have never done a byte for byte price comparison) but USB hard drives in the 2T to 3T range are... depending on the latest flood or fire where they are made, like happened a couple years ago... available at a "fairly" reasonable cost
And, having used both SD tape and HD from a Canon Vixia HFS100, I very much prefer the quality of AVCHD... even the DVD's I produce look better
A couple of questions.
If you shoot on a Camcorder with a SDchip and then bring that chip to a computer for editing, are you actually working from the chip?
If you ultimatly end up on a Disk, are you necessarily required to output as AVCHD or could it still be encoded in MPG and burned to a DVD? Or am I missing the fact that AVCHD is another encoding process used to get the info on the SD?