Many people seem to be under the impression that digital cameras came along out of the blue about 10 years ago, but in fact the roots of portable electronic still cameras can be traced back to the original Sony Mavica, a still video camera launched as long ago as 1981. With its pedigree in broadcast-quality video cameras, Sony has continued to be a leader in both innovation and worldwide sales of cameras ever since. It currently has one of the largest ranges of digital cameras of any of the leading brands, with 27 models in the Cyber-shot range of compact and super-zoom cameras, plus two acclaimed digital SLRs and huge range of video cameras for both domestic and professional use. The model I'm reviewing today is the Cyber-shot DSC-W80, a mid-range 7.2-megapixel pocket compact featuring a 3x zoom, a 2.5-inch LCD monitor plus optical viewfinder, and image stabilisation.
As a 7MP 3x zoom compact the W80 is sitting alongside such models as the Canon IXUS 75 (£160), the Casio EX-S770 (£170) and the Olympus FE-240 (£170), as well as cheaper models such as the Nikon CoolPix S200 (£120), the Samsung S730 (£90), and the Kodak EasyShare M753 (£90). With its current retail price around £135 the W80 finds itself at about the mid-point on the price scale for 7MP compacts. However if you're looking for a 7MP 3x zoom camera with image stabilisation then your only other real alternative is the Panasonic Lumix FX-30 (£215).
In overall style the W80 is fairly conservative and understated. The body is predominantly aluminium, with a matt finish on the back and a brushed effect on the front, with chrome trim. In some markets it is also available in either black, white or pink, although these alternative finishes appear to be unavailable in the UK. The camera is physically quite small and light, measuring 91 x 58 x 22.9mm and weighing 155g including battery and memory card. There are smaller and lighter cameras on the market, but the W80 is certainly in the "shirt pocket" category.