37x optical zoom = totally insane. I think it was actually 41x though.
Either way, it was something like the 35mm equivalent of a 1700mm focal length lens at the long end - That focal length is going to be next to useless unless you spend as much on a tripod as you do on the camera. Also, image quality of most zoom lenses goes down as the zoom range increases. (As an example, photographers typically treat any lens with more than 8x zoom range as "guilty until proven innocent" in terms of image quality performance.)
FYI my HF100 is limited to something like 12-15x optical and even the long end of its zoom range is barely usable despite optical image stabilization.
I did notice one disadvantage is that the standard definition Canons only have electronic image stabilization, which is inferior to the optical image stabilization used by the high def Canons and pretty much all of Panasonic's product line. Panasonic does produce flash memory based camcorders though.
Regardless of brand, I strongly reccommend a flash memory based camcorder over a hard drive based one. Flash memory camcorders are fundamentally more rugged and are typically smaller.
For future expandability, I strongly reccommend a camcorder that has an external microphone input. The Canon FS series have this, I do not know about Panny's standard def flash memory units. The difference between typical camcorder internal microphones and even low-end external mics is like night and day in terms of audio quality.
With that said, what would you recommend? The hard drive camcorder or the one that has flash drive?
Well, of the two models originally posted (Canon FS100 vs Panasonic ???), I would say either the Canon FS100 or one of the flash memory Panasonic models. The only bad thing about the FS100 is electronic IS instead of optical. (But the Panasonic standard def flash memory units might be better.)
Given the choice between flash memory and hard drive, I would always reccommend flash memory. The two camcorders in question had a LOT of other differences other than flash vs. hard drive.
------------------ *disclaimer* I am not now, nor have I ever been, an employee of Best Buy, Geek Squad, nor of any of their affiliate, parent, or subsidiary companies.