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A few weeks ago I reviewed the Nikon CoolPix P1, a sleek eight megapixel compact featuring WiFi connectivity. It’s often the case that a new idea will appear almost simultaneously from several different sources, so it’s no surprise that Nikon isn’t the only company experimenting with wireless technology.
This week I’ve got the new Canon IXUS Wireless. As the name suggests it has a built-in wireless network device, which connects the camera to any computer that is equipped with a wireless network adapter, allowing quick and easy downloading of captured images.
We’ll come to the wireless functions in a while; first let’s take a look at the rest of the camera. Like all the models in the Canon IXUS range, the IXUS Wireless is a stylish pocket-sized camera, designed as much for its looks as its picture taking ability. The IXUS range is a premium brand for Canon, and this is reflected in the price. The IXUS Wireless has a list price of a hefty £399.99, although it is available for around £279 online. This is very expensive for a five megapixel compact, especially when there are smaller 6MP cameras out there for less than £200.
However you do get a lot of camera for your money. The Wireless has a strong steel case with a matt anodised finish, and like most Canon cameras it has a feel of real quality about it. Fit and finish is of a very high standard, and the controls are sensibly positioned and securely mounted, although I found the white-on-silver and gloss-on-matt lettering on the buttons and D-pad very hard to read in anything other than bright daylight. A higher contrast colour scheme might have been a better idea.
Unusually for a modern compact camera, the IXUS Wireless has a comparatively small 2in LCD monitor and a good quality optical viewfinder. This is very useful for saving battery power, since you can turn the monitor screen off and take photos the old-fashioned way. The Wireless has a fairly small 760mAh Li-ion battery that is good for only about 150 shots on a full charge, so anything that can extend this is a good idea.
On the front we find a compact 3x optical zoom lens that retracts right into the camera body, giving the Wireless a very slim profile, just 21.7mm thick. Above the lens is a small AF illuminator for low light focusing, which has an effective range of about two metres. There is also a reasonably powerful built-in flash which has excellent frame coverage and a range of 3.5m at wide angle or 2m at full zoom.