And the winner is . . . Downtube 8FH
After asking many, many questions of this forum, and then sitting back for a month to read everything else that was posted here, I finally made the decision. It was not my original choice (Dahon Glide), but the more I read, the more I realized that I had not truly identified my most likely uses for my future bike. I started out wanting a bike to ride on the beach. It was eventually pointed out to me that that sort of abuse (salt air) would likely ruin my purchase ($800 pile of rust), and I'd be better off with a single speed, coaster brake model for that purpose. I also reported that I wanted to ride the local bike paths with a Labrador Retriever trotting along beside me, but after walking those same paths, I could see that there would be no way to successfully pass the other (oft times elderly) walkers without the dog crashing into them. So, Plan B. Rent a beach bike at Hilton Head, and buy a folder that could handle off-road adventures with the dog.
With my new criteria in mind, I went looking for a reasonably priced, full-suspension model with a low maintenance internal hub. The Downtube 8FH fit the bill. It arrived last week, has returned from my LBS after a safety check and minor tune-up, and the dog and I have been riding the local unpaved trail ever since, like we died and went to heaven. I can't say enough about how much I like this bike, and how happy I am that I found this forum, which allowed me to eventually make an informed decision that I am unlikely to regret.
I purchased this bike without ever test riding a folder. The 20" wheels feel fine to me, and I don't notice any particular difference in the steering either. Those of you out there who think you need a full sized folder so that it feels like a "real bike", think again. The design of this particular Downtube makes it look (and feel) like a regular bike, even thought it has 20" wheels. I just love it!
Thanks again, all of you out there who helped me make a selection. You are very wise to ask the newbies lots of questions when you're asked to make suggestions. Many of us have not owned a bike in a long time, and we don't even know what we should be looking for. Your input was appreciated!