My son has the TM700 and in contrast to your experience, has not had a single problem with the camera and as you said, the image quality for such a consumer camera is superb. The HC-X900M comes out of the tests that I have read near top of the class. But the choice is not only based on test results, you have to look at the specs, ergonomics, features, the re-usable parts from your old camera, like SD cards, batteries, filters, etc. All your batteries are worthless when you choose the Sony. Also check whether external mics or on-camera lighting are transferable. That may influence your choice as well.
My first step would be however, to contact Panasonic about the switching off problem. It may well be a bad connection either in the LCD or internally that can easily be solved. Maybe pressing down on the connectors at both ends of the flat cable, or exchanging the flat cable will be the remedy.
Thanks Harm. Panasonic will not even look at the camera because I purchased it from B&H in New York, not locally from an Australian dealer. The 3 problems I have had are 1.. Mode switch siezed up 2.. Grip Strap broke away completly from the body and 3.. Now it will not switch off and this is NOT a connection problem as it happens when I close the LCD and or when I retract the viewfinder. Also the batteries for the TM700 are different to the HC-X900M.
I would like to hear from a Sony owner of the 760VE. I am really not happy with Panasonics support, (NIL) and the build quality of their cams.
It does not help you solve your dilemma, but let me tell you some of my experiences with service from various companies.
I have used many Sony cameras over the years, a TRV-50, a VX-2000, a PD-150 and a Z1. Even though they were generally reliable, there were some minor problems with every camera, like the accessory shoe getting loose, the mic holder getting loose, the tape transport needed cleaning, simple stuff like that, but Sony was always very expensive and took their time. At least 6 weeks turn-around time. So I looked elsewhere and found an ex-Sony employee, who was a worldwide acclaimed Sony Certified Expert Service Professional and had the papers to support it (he got this title at Sony HQ in Tokio), who started his own service repair shop. His turn around time was usually less than a day, you made an appointment, went to his shop, got a very warm welcome and a cup of coffee, while he investigated the problem, explaining every step as he went along and watching him do his work. After everything was repaired, the bill was always a nice surprise and the duration of the repair was always very short. If a new part was required, he had direct access to the European supply center in Belgium, so instead of ordering through Sony Netherlands, he got the parts much faster. I went to him even if I had no problems periodically for a yearly check-up of my equipment, like you do with your car.
He not only serviced Sony, but also Canon, Panasonic, JVC, Ikegami, etc. and had among his clients several broadcast companies.
I'm pretty sure there must be people like this guy in Australia as well but you may have to rely on other Aussies to give you a hint here.
I have a Canon XF300 now, bought in New Zealand (Global Media Pro) and shipped from Hong Kong that developed problems with the EVF, a rather common problem with the XF range. I contacted Canon Europe, the camera was picked up by courier, repaired and returned within 10 days, all under warranty. So, obviously Canon is more lenient than Panasonic in their service, but maybe that also has to do with the positioning of the XF range of cameras.
I hope you get some hints on who might be able to help you out locally.
Every came is different of course. I am a long time Sony user and consider their higher end cameras like the F3 to have the best colorimetry in its class, beating out the Canon C300 and Red Epic. Sony has a more natural looking and truer color space than the Canon which tends to look warmer and more contrasty. Let your eyes be the judge because it really depends on what you like best.