all are consumer cams and all are "point and shoot". But, just as with photos, if you want improved imaging, you need to make a bit of a learning investment. White balance is a menu selection in the camcorder and two or three button pushes away... and... turn on some lights.
If you want nothing but point and shoot, then perhaps video is not a good idea. Audio with stills in a montage can be very effective.
Why is transferring 1 hour of miniDV "anxious"? Click import or capture, and go do something else. Lock the miniDV tape and it becomes a stable long-shelf life archive - especially of the video that gets cut. Your statement of the one hour transfer has nothing to do with your original statement of the digital format.
With HDD and flash memory, the FIRST step you should do, presuming you want to be complete, is to make an archive up of the video. This way, if you need to (or want to) go back to the original video it is there for you. What are you planning to store this archive on? Another hard drive? Optical disc? From my IT manager background, neither is an acceptable digital archive method... but digital tape is. SIOnce the original miniDV tape is the archive, there is no extra step to make an (unacceptable) backup.
From what you described in the original post, this initial project would be an interview with an older person. The camcorder should be on a tripod or tabletop or some other steady device. Humans were not built to be steady. Take a hint from the pros - never shoot handheld. Just because you are a newbie does not mean you don't need to learn how to capture good video.
Intricate conversion to computer:
MiniDV requires a firewire port. Connect a firewire cable. Lock the tape. Camera in Play or VCR mode. Launch video editor. Click Import or capture. Store original tape in cool dry place.
HDD and flash memory requires USB. Connect a USB cable. Camera in Play mode. Copy video to computer. Make copy of files to whatever back-up media you think will last more than 10-20 years. Launch video editor. You may need to convert the video file format to something the video editor likes.
In my opinion, these steps are approximately equivalent. I do not see the real time transfer as "easy or difficult" and with the added step of a back up needed for the flash and HDD environment, the time savings is not that big.
I agree that the editors that come in the box with the camcorders is useless. Some might say that the video editors bundled with the major operating systems are useless. Since you have not told us which computer or operating system... I think the low end tools can be very useful for the sort of editing to which you refer.
Windows XP (SP2) and newer (including Vista) has Microsoft MovieMaker. Not anything stellar, but for importing, trimming clips, adjusting audio and simple cuts and crossfades, it took me about 15 minutes to figure out this weekend. I started using Apple's iMovieHD about 4 years ago. That took me about 20 minutes to figure out for basic use. I was actually very pleasantly surprised at the ease of use of both applications. I use FinalCut Pro for higher-end editing requirements, and as with most higher end applications, there is quite a learning curve. For Windows, Sony Vegas and Adobe Premiere typically float to the top. For your stated purpose, I'd say you probably already have what you need. (And, to continue that part of the discussion the second paragraph, it is very easy to combine video and stills... just drag the stills in to the editor).
Other issues with HDD camcorders which probably will not impact you for this stated project are known issues with vibration (and loud audio) and high altitude. In both cases, there are sensors in the camcorder which detect the condition and park the hard drive heads to protect the platters - so no recording gets done. This could be a future problem so why bother... MiniDV tape and flash memory do not share these issues.
Another suggestion: Many people are not comfortable with a camera in their face. Since the built-in mics operate best when they are close to a (normal audio level) source, you have no choice but to have the camcorder near the person speaking. If you use a camcorder with a mic jack to connect an external mic, you can place the camcorder anywhere (within reach of the wired or wireless mic). The Canon FS10 and 100 and the Canon ZR900 and ZR930 have mic jacks. Neither have manual audio control, but the least expensive camcorders with that function Canon HV30 or Sony HDR-HC9) are more expensive.
The Audio Technica Pro88W-R35 or ATR288W are decent, affordable, consumer wireless mic systems.