The slender metal body of the Canon IXUS 230 HS is typical of Canon's IXUS line. At only 22.1mm thick, it's very compact for a camera with a long zoom like this. The body feels durable and is easy to grip, thanks to the raised Canon logo on the front, which provides a good hold over the camera.
The design is stylish, with black accents providing contrast to the shiny metal exterior. Six colours are available to choose from, including silver, green, purple, pink, blue and black.
The control layout is slightly different from older IXUS cameras, with the shooting mode selection switch and menu buttons tucked away on the side. These can be a little fiddly to use, due to their placement. Because the camera is designed largely for point and shoot photographers, this doesn't hamper the overall ease of use.
The rest of the Canon IXUS 230 HS's controls are well laid out, with buttons large enough to be comfortable pressed by even the least dextrous of users. The zoom control, which is located on a bezel around the shutter button, is responsive, while not moving the zoom too fast for easy composition.
Menus are also clearly laid out, with the main function menu providing easy access to scene modes, picture effects and other commonly changed options. A dedicated movie record button provides one-touch access to video recording, and the image stabiliser works continuously during recording.
The three-inch PureColor II G LCD display is clear, sharp and easy enough to see, even in very bright lighting conditions, thanks to the high contrast and an excellent anti-reflective coating. The screen's resolution of 461,000 dots may not be the highest resolution available, but the screen still performs well when compared to other cameras at this price point.
In use, the Canon IXUS 230 HS feels very responsive. The camera starts up almost instantly when the power button is pressed, and there's very little delay in writing images to an SD card. Focusing is lightning quick in all but the darkest conditions. Even when the conditions are difficult, this camera is very responsive when compared to its direct competition.