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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T2
Modern digital compact cameras are wonders of advanced technology. Features that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago such as tiny multi-megapixel image sensors, face detection and even face recognition software, ultra-compact zoom lenses with optical image stabilisation, high resolution LCD monitor screens and tiny memory cards holding gigabytes of data are relatively commonplace today. However it has to be said that for all this sophistication, most cameras aren't particularly modern-looking. While they have become smaller, the overall design hasn't really changed that much since the days of film. It's occasionally refreshing therefore to come across a camera for which the designer has been given free reign to come up with a really stylish and attractive product, incorporating all of the above features in a package that looks like it belongs in the 21st century. When this happens, the result is something like the Sony DSC-T2.
The T2 incorporates a number of design ideas that have been seen before, but does so in innovative and stylish way. It has a sliding front panel that covers the lens, which is not a new idea, but in this case the top two thirds of the front panel slides downward and lifts over the lower third, so that when closed it forms one flat surface. Meanwhile on the back it has a 2.7-inch touch-screen LCD monitor, again not a new idea, but the T2 uses it for almost every control function, with the few remaining buttons incorporated into the design more as styling flourishes rather than functional controls. The camera body itself is also both stylish and clever. The front, top and sides are all smooth aluminium , and it comes in a range of colours including black, white, turquoise blue, bright pink and the metallic lime green of my review sample.
The basic specification of the T2 is unremarkable. It is an 8.1-megapixel camera with a 3x zoom lens equivalent to 38-114mm. However it is exceptionally compact and lightweight, measuring 86.8 x 56.8 x 20.2mm and weighing 156g including battery and memory card. This makes it one of the smallest cameras on the market, and it is tempting to compare it with models such as the Canon IXUS 80 and Pentax Optio S10. However the T2 has a number of features that these models lack, particularly its Super SteadyShot optical image stabilisation system. It is also rather expensive for a compact camera, currently selling for around £210 from most retailers. The IXUS 80 is around £180, while the 10-megapixel Optio S10 is around £150.