A trendsetter in digital cameras, Sony takes design to new heights with its 10.1Mp Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700.

The main innovation with this good-looking touchscreen camera is the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700's 4GB of on-board storage, as well as a few other features that may be irresistible despite the camera's £299 price tag.

Making up somewhat for its high price, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700 has 4GB of internal flash memory, as well as the usual Memory Stick slot. If you use both the internal memory and a 16GB Memory Stick (the highest capacity currently available), you get a hefty 20GB of storage inside this camera, without having to swap out cards.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700 also sports the highest-resolution LCD in its class. In fact, at 3.5in diagonally, it very nearly constitutes the entire back of the camera. Aside from the power and shutter buttons, the touch screen contains all of the camera's controls. The unit is slim and compact, too, measuring a little over a half-inch in depth and weighing a slightly heavy 160g.

On the exterior, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700 looks cool. The T700 has a brushed-metal finish that comes in several colours (red, pink, silver, and gray). Our test unit was gray, and out of the box its iridescence was mesmerizing: tip it one way, it takes on a violet sheen; another direction, it becomes a slight pink or blue. It also has a neat sliding cover that's an attractive and functional design choice.

Sony's menu system is intuitive, and we had the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700 camera up and running in no time at all. You can elect to view a simplified on-screen menu, which offers greater breadth for composing images, or you can see more information on your settings (including histograms, if you're technically inclined).

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700 also has some editing and playback capabilities that are, we have to admit, very fun to use. You can add effects such as star filters, fisheye, and the typical black-and-white or sepia, and you can even paint right onto your pictures using the stylus.

The slideshow feature kept us entertained for a long time. It's highly customisable, with cool transition effects and music; you can add your own MP3s, too, which makes all the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700's on-board storage even handier.

In practical use, though, the combo of the internal memory and a Memory Stick isn't as convenient as it should be. In effect, you can't use both at the same time. You can use the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700 while the Memory Stick is in place, of course, but you cannot view or access pictures stored in internal memory. But because we rarely take 4GB of shots in a day, operating on the internal memory alone - and simply moving the day's pictures to our PC later - was easy.

The lovely design of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700 presents a few minor problems. For example, the sheer size of the huge touch screen leaves little room for a grip, and someone with larger hands may find that a serious problem.

The slick front of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700 doesn't give your fingers anything to grab on to, either.

In addition, the position of the lens at the upper left of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700 means that it's easy to unwittingly make your index finger part of the shot. However, the touchscreen offers just the right amount of sensitivity, meaning you can use your fingertip or the stylus (which stows away inside the camera) equally well.

Another drawback: The big touchscreen takes a toll on the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700's battery life. In our battery test, the camera lasted through just 201 shots on a single charge. That's enough for a Good battery rating, but it falls well short of the 250-to-300-shot battery life of many other point-and-shoot cameras we've tested.

Picture quality on the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700 is reasonably good; in our jury testing, the camera's images earned a score of Very Good, with its strengths being colour accuracy and overall image quality. Its glaring weakness is sharpness, and in our hands-on tests we too found soft focus to be an ongoing problem at the 4x end of the optical zoom.

NEXT PAGE: testing the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700

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