We've reviewed a number of BenQ digital cameras over the past few years. If you take a look at those reviews, there is a noticeable progression over time, from generic mass-produced boxes indistinguishable from any other Chinese import camera, to stylish and well-made ultra-slim cameras with decent performance and picture quality, in fact some of the more recent models were starting to look seriously competitive. However with the recent well-recorded turmoil at BenQ I was concerned that this steady improvement would come to a sudden halt or even go into reverse. BenQ has apparently outsourced its camera manufacturing to a low-end OEM manufacturer called Ability Enterprise, whose existing range of cameras is uninspiring to say the least.
However I may have been too hasty in my concern, because I've got the latest BenQ camera in for review and it's actually pretty good. The DC E1000 is so new it isn't even featured on BenQ's UK website yet, and won't be available to buy in this country for another couple of weeks, so this is the first review of the new model in the UK. The E1000 is a 10-megapixel, 3x zoom compact with a 3-inch 230k monitor and s reasonably advanced set of features. I terms of specification its main competition comes from Pentax's excellent Optio A30 (£145), and the equally excellent Casio EX-Z1050 (£118). The E1000 will be going on sale at an initial price of £140, but will probably be available for much less within a few weeks.
It's certainly a striking-looking camera. The most obvious feature on the front of the camera is a large bar of what appears to be brushed stainless steel inset into the left-hand side of the facia. According to the hilariously awful translation on BenQ's corporate website, "Metal is the primary element symbolized the manhood", because "hard, cold and rigid say it all". Er…yeah, right. Bizarre phallic symbolism aside, the metal bar does at least provide a secure hand grip (!) making the camera quite comfortable to hold. The other styling features are equally eye-catching. The camera is finished in attractive matt black, with a metallic red ring outlining the lens. The rear of the camera is a flat plate of glossy plastic, transparent over the monitor screen and with the rear controls inset into it and a small textured area for the thumbgrip. The top panel is finished in a metallic gunmetal grey.