I was looking for a camcorder for 2 reasons - to take videos while on holiday and to record videos to explain my services and upload these to YouTube.
Amazon is not really very well geared up to purchase such items as you cannot select features you are looking for and then, get a filtered list.
Anyway, what I was looking for was a HD camcorder where I could use an External Microphone. And unfortunately Panasonic V500M does not have an External Microphone socket.
The next model up - Panasonic V700M - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Panasonic-V700-1080p-Ready-Camcorder/dp/B006T9JHZK/ - has an External Microphone socket and apparently, better video although, I have not seen the quality of V700M's output.
V500M is built well and handles well. It picks up sound within 1.5 meters really well in non-zoom mode. The video quality is good too. It is easy to operate. I would definitely recommend an HDMI cable. Something like this would be ideal - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nedis-V1-3a-Cable-Plated-Connectors/dp/B002MSU5BM/
By default, V500M comes with VW-VBK180 battery that gives between an hour to two hours of recording time. I ended up also buying VW-VBK360 battery equivalent from Amazon - http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B006YQQKCQ/ - alongwith, an external charger - http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0042AUVLC/
If I could choose again, I would choose V700M and an external microphone - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Polaroid-Condenser-Shotgun-Microphone-Camcorders/dp/B005S45YX6/
I might go for X900M - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Panasonic-Camcorder-Built-In-Viewfinder-Built-/dp/B006U98G74/ or if budget was a concern, I might go for X800 - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Panasonic-X800-1080p-Ready-Camcorder/dp/B006U98G42/
These advanced models not only have an external microphone socket, they also have a socket for an accessory shoe and comes with an accessory shoe - an ideal way to use an external microphone or an additional light.
Given that the price difference between V500M and V700M is not much, I would recommend buying V700M.
I am sure the V500M will prove to be a good camcorder...or at least, I hope so.
My reason for giving a 3-star rating - there is a better product from the same manufacturer at not much extra price.
UPDATE - 16-Nov-2012:
I have done a video for a wedding using this camcorder. Video quality is great. Sound quality is much better than I expected. Hence, upgrading it from 3-star to 4-star.