Although not as slim as other cameras in the Canon IXUS line up - such as the 19.5mm-thick IXUS 220 HS - the Canon IXUS 1100 HS is still very svelte for a camera with a 12x zoom lens. The glossy metal body is a little slippery to get to grips with, but the raised Canon logo on the front provides just enough purchase for a secure hold.
The black version we reviewed is very sleek-looking. Besides the black finish, red and silver finishes are also available.
The touchscreen interface has enabled Canon to do away with many of the buttons you would normally find, which leads to an overall minimalist appearance.
With the camera switched on, the composed image takes up the central part of the 16:9 aspect ratio 3.2-inch screen. The space either side isn't wasted though, since this is where various controls are located. In a similar way to touchscreen phones, the menu system is laid out clearly and can be scrolled through by dragging your finger over the screen.
Unlike mobile 'phones, though, there's no kinetic scrolling, so your finger has to remain on the screen at all times when navigating the menus, otherwise the motion stops and it can't be flicked onwards. This leads to a rather unresponsive user experience, and can make navigating long menus troublesome.
Because contact with the screen has to be maintained, it's possible to accidentally select the wrong feature, leading to a frustrating cycle of trying to select something and having to start again.
One area where the touchscreen does excel is with the Touch-Shutter feature. Touching the screen focuses at that point in the scene and takes a picture. This can be really handy although there is a slight delay in taking a picture, so it may not be wholly suitable for action shots.
The PureColor II screen with its resolution of 461,000 dots may not be the highest resolution screen on offer, but it is bright, clear and easy to use in daylight. A nifty playback feature provides a split-screen view after each picture is taken. One image shows the whole photo and the other shows a zoomed in section where the main point of focus lies, so that you can confirm how sharp an image is right away.
Aside from the troubles with the touchscreen interface, the Canon IXUS 1100 HS is a very responsive camera. Autofocus locks on almost instantly and there is little noticeable shutter lag. Even in dark conditions, the autofocus performs well. From pressing the power button to taking a picture takes just over a second, which means the camera is always ready for quick grab shots as required.