The P500 sells for about $425, which is getting close to the price of some DSLR cameras.
It has all the controls you could ask for and it takes good pictures.
I suggest you get your hands on one and see how it feels to hold.
The 36X zoom is more zoom than you will ever use, because it takes a tripod to hold the camera steady at anything more than about 10X zoom.
The lens is sharp at 36X but if you hand hold the camera at than, you will get a lot of fuzzy pictures due to camera motion.
For comparison, I suggest you also look at something with a 12X zoom for about $225.
The Canon SX130 IS.
I have had a few of the smaller point and shoots..They didn't take great pictures so I just started using my phone.