The latest in Sony's T-series line of slim digital still cameras, the DSC-T100, is now on sale in the UK. We got hold of the Sony DSC-T100 for a review and were impressed, apart from the PlayStation 3-like lack of an HDMI cable.

This latest model packs an 8.1Mp image sensor, 5x optical zoom and a big 3in LCD display on the back. We got a chance to use the camera for a couple of weeks and ended up with some great looking pictures and a favorable impression.

First impressions are of a handsome camera thanks in large part to its brushed-aluminum face and the large display on the back. You can switch it on by sliding a cover down to reveal the lens, and off by doing the opposite. The camera starts up quickly and is almost immediately ready to take a picture.

The 8Mp image sensor Sony has fitted into the camera is generous. In fact, you'll probably want to set it to a lower resolution for day-to-day photography because you just don't need that much resolution for most pictures.

An 8Mp image works out at 3,264 pixels by 2,448 pixels and occupies about 2MB of space, versus 1.5MB for a 5Mp image, from which you'll still be able to produce a good looking print. You'll also be able to store more on a Memory Stick Duo card or the camera's built-in 31MB of memory.

While you're unlikely to need the 8Mp mode for day-to-day shooting, it does come in handy if you want to capture something at a distance. When you're a distance from your subject and the camera's optical zoom hits its limit then a top-resolution image should mean you can still zoom in a little on the image when it's in your PC and end up with a good shot.

The camera has a polished user interface that worked well although one thing puzzled us. There's an option to change the user language but when selected a message comes up on the Japanese model saying the language can't be changed. If they programmed in that message into the software, couldn't they have just taken the menu option out on this model?

And while we're moaning, here's our biggest complaint about this camera. Sony's entire advertising campaign for the T100 is that it has a high-definition TV output. Now that's a good thing - most cameras output a standard definition signal when hooked up to an HDTV so you end up looking at a VGA resolution image.

But the T100 doesn't do high-definition out of the box. If you want to make use of this heavily advertised feature you need to buy a cable or a docking station. Sony does warn you of this - it's in the fine print on the commercials and on the box - but it still would make us feel a little short-changed.

This isn't the first time the complaint has been made of Sony. It also doesn't ship HDTV connectors with its high-definition PlayStation 3 game console.

Sony's reply - on both the T100 and PlayStation 3 - is that the cable isn't in each box because not everyone owns an HDTV and it would be unfair to make everyone pay for it. Sure, but if the main selling point is an HDTV output then you'd think most customers would be interested in that.

Cables aside, the T100 is a portable camera. We spent a week walking around with it in a jacket pocket and its size and weight, at 141g, meant we often forgot it was there.

There's a great magnifying mode that brings the macro focus down to 1cm from the subject - couple that with the 8Mp image and you're in for some great close-up photos. There's image stabilisation and it runs on Sony's Bionz image processor and has a face-detection system so your subjects' faces are always in focus. A fully charged battery will last about 380 images.

The T100 is now available in silver, black and red in most markets and costs around £250.

If that's a little steep for you then consider the T20, which looks pretty similar to the T100. It also packs an 8Mp sensor but with 3x zoom and a 2.5-inch screen. It costs about £180.

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Sony DSC-T100 : Specs

  • 8Mp sensor
  • 1/2.5in CCD
  • 3,264x2,448 resolution
  • 640x480 movie resolution (30 frames per second)
  • 5x optical zoom
  • 5.8-29mm aperture
  • 3in, 230,000-pixel LCD
  • 1cm/35cm normal, macro focus distance
  • automatic shutter speed: 1/4 - 1/1,000 seconds, manual shutter speed: 1 - 1/1,000 seconds
  • 80-3,200 ISO range
  • 31MB internal storage
  • rechargeable lithium-N battery
  • 91.8x59.2x22.3mm, 141g
  • Bionz processor, Face Recognition mode, Super Steady Shot image stabiliser
  • 8Mp sensor
  • 1/2.5in CCD
  • 3,264x2,448 resolution
  • 640x480 movie resolution (30 frames per second)
  • 5x optical zoom
  • 5.8-29mm aperture
  • 3in, 230,000-pixel LCD
  • 1cm/35cm normal, macro focus distance
  • automatic shutter speed: 1/4 - 1/1,000 seconds, manual shutter speed: 1 - 1/1,000 seconds
  • 80-3,200 ISO range
  • 31MB internal storage
  • rechargeable lithium-N battery
  • 91.8x59.2x22.3mm, 141g
  • Bionz processor, Face Recognition mode, Super Steady Shot image stabiliser

OUR VERDICT

A stylish, well-priced model from Sony, it has excellent build quality and portability, and produces great images. We really liked the Sony DSC-T100. Indeed, our only concerns were of the minor-quibble variety - that weird menu glitch and the lack of an HDMI cable.

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