Although the Canon PowerShot TX1 resembles a miniature camcorder, it's best suited for still photography.
You hold the Canon PowerShot TX1 vertically instead of horizontally, an odd orientation for a point-and-shoot camera. The Canon PowerShot TX1's design, while compact, comes at a pretty hefty price.
The Canon PowerShot TX1 fits neatly into your right hand. When you power the unit on, the lens barrel pops out from the front edge, and you can operate the zoom lever with your thumb.
An LCD panel flips out from the side of the Canon PowerShot TX1. Separate buttons let you quickly switch between shooting still photos and capturing movies. The shutter release sits at the top of the Canon PowerShot TX1, and you can access a video-recording button beneath the zoom lever.
The Canon PowerShot TX1's price may seem steep for a 7.1Mp model, but the trim metal case contains many high-end features. The lens zooms to 10X and comes with optical stabilisation, which can reduce the effect of shaky hands when you're shooting distant subjects. Automatic face detection makes taking portraits easier by matching the focus and exposure to your subject.
You can record 720p HDTV-quality video at 30fps (frames per second). The Canon PowerShot TX1 even has stereo sound, recorded by twin microphones in the back of the LCD panel; when we tried recording video at the highest quality setting, however, we filled a 4GB SDHC media card in less than 15 minutes.
In our formal tests the Canon PowerShot TX1 produced high-quality images, earning a score of Very Good. Our jury was most impressed with the TX1's colour accuracy. Photos taken in natural light showed better exposure than when we used flash. Our informal shots of the ocean and country landscapes also looked attractive. Colours appeared very natural, although slightly muted due to the bright sunlight. Getting sharp shots with decent contrast was easy.
We had a few issues with the camera's novel design, however. At 1.8in, the LCD is a little small by today's standards, but it's hard to imagine how a larger screen would fit on a camera this compact. The Canon PowerShot TX1 lacks manual modes, although you can use exposure compensation to gain more control in varying light conditions.
You get no optical viewfinder, which can be useful for tracking moving objects or shooting in bright sunlight (when the LCD can be difficult to see). The camera's tiny joystick is a little fiddly when navigating the onscreen menus. Finally, battery life is relatively low: the Canon PowerShot TX1 took only 190 shots on a single charge in our lab tests.