Over the past few years, Sony's TX line of rugged cameras has distinguished itself from the rest of the durable pack by looking nothing like the everything-proof competition. Compact cameras such as the Sony Cyber-shot TX200V are slim, fashionable, and largely touchscreen-controlled - three traits that you rarely see in waterproof, dustproof, drop-proof, and freezeproof models. This is a hands-on preview of the Sony Cyber-shot TX200V. We'll have a full review when we get hold of a sample for a proper, in-depth test.

The glass-fronted Sony Cyber-shot TX200V takes a step forward on the aesthetics front, but a couple of steps back in terms of ruggedness: While the TX200V is waterproof (to a depth of 16 feet underwater) and dustproof, that fancy glass faceplate means that it's not drop-proof; but the camera is rated as freezeproof. (And thank goodness it's waterproof, because dunking it in soapy water will likely be the best way to clear its front plate of all the fingerprints it's bound to collect.)

Ruggedness aside, the Sony Cyber-shot TX200V camera has an iPhone-esque physical design. The glass-fronted TX200V's design might even be a visual riff on the fact that the Apple iPhone 4S's popular 8-megapixel camera is a module made by Sony. See also: Group test: what's the best compact camera?

Sony Cyber-shot TX200V

Under its slick looks, the Sony Cyber-shot TX200V contains some souped-up innards: an 18-megapixel backside-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor, a revamped autofocus system that Sony says can lock in on subjects within 0.1 second in bright lighting and within 0.2 second in dimmer environments, and an internal 5X-optical-zoom lens (25mm to 125mm) that extends to a simulated 250mm telephoto via the "by-pixel super resolution" digital-zoom technology first found in the Cyber-shot TX55 and several new Handycam camcorders announced at CES 2012. In its new Cyber-shot lineup, Sony bills the new digital-zoom technology as "Clear Image Zoom."

In video mode, the TX200V records 1080i footage at 60 frames per second, and it can capture 13-megapixel still images while shooting video, without interrupting movie recording. Built-in GPS geotagging (just raw longitude and latitude information; no in-camera mapping) and a 3.3-inch-diagonal OLED touchscreen round out the Cyber-shot TX200V's array of features.

Due in March in three body colours (red, silver, and purple), the Cyber-shot TX200V will be priced at around $500 in the US. UK pricing has not been confirmed. For more, visit Photo Advisor.

See also: Learn to take better photos with an online simulator

Sony Cyber-shot TX200V: Specs

  • 1/2.3in Exmor R CMOS Sensor
  • 18.9Mp
  • RGB primary colour filters
  • 3.0in Xtra Fine TruBlack OLED touchscreen display
  • Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens
  • 5x optical zoom, 10x digital zoom
  • ISO: Auto/64/100/200/400/800/1600/3200/6400/12800
  • 95.5x58.3x16.0mm
  • 129g
  • Self-timer: Off/10sec./2sec./portrait1/portrait
  • Shutter Speeds: iAuto (2"-1/1600)/Program Auto(1"-1/1600)
  • Burst Mode: Approx 10fps at 18.2Mp (Maximum 10 shots)
  • LITHIUM ION NP-BN 3.6V battery
  • Jpeg, AVCHD Ver2.0/MP4
  • optional Memory Stick Micro, Memory Stick Micro (Mark 2), microSD Memory Card, microSDHC Memory Card
  • Micro HDMI/Micro USB/Hi-Speed USB
  • 1/2.3in Exmor R CMOS Sensor
  • 18.9Mp
  • RGB primary colour filters
  • 3.0in Xtra Fine TruBlack OLED touchscreen display
  • Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens
  • 5x optical zoom, 10x digital zoom
  • ISO: Auto/64/100/200/400/800/1600/3200/6400/12800
  • 95.5x58.3x16.0mm
  • 129g
  • Self-timer: Off/10sec./2sec./portrait1/portrait
  • Shutter Speeds: iAuto (2"-1/1600)/Program Auto(1"-1/1600)
  • Burst Mode: Approx 10fps at 18.2Mp (Maximum 10 shots)
  • LITHIUM ION NP-BN 3.6V battery
  • Jpeg, AVCHD Ver2.0/MP4
  • optional Memory Stick Micro, Memory Stick Micro (Mark 2), microSD Memory Card, microSDHC Memory Card
  • Micro HDMI/Micro USB/Hi-Speed USB

OUR VERDICT

The waterproof Sony Cyber-shot TX200V takes on the legacy of Sony's Cyber-shot cameras, adding a fast autofocus system and an OLED touchscreen, behind a glass faceplate. We don't know exactly when it will be available in the UK, or how much it will cost when it is, but we are looking forward to finding out.

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