The most eye-catching feature on the back of the Canon 300HS is the huge 3-inch, 16:9 widescreen display.
Unsurprisingly, this isn't the world's most convenient aspect ratio - the 300 HS, like most compacts, captures images with a 3:2 aspect ratio, which means there's a fair amount of dead space on the monitor.
On the plus side, this space is cleverly used, keeping shooting information from crowding your composition. There is, however, a 16:9 capture mode, which produces 3,648 x 2,048 images.
The screen itself is a 230,000-dot display, which is par for the course these days, but still, the reputation of Ixus cameras for having bright, sharp displays continues. Indoors or outdoors, we never struggled to make sense of what was going on.
The jog dial to the right of the screen doubles as a four-way D-pad, but the width of the screen means there's no room for icons describing what each direction does – push up for exposure compensation for instance.
Canon skirts around this, however - give any direction a half-push and a guide appears on screen.
In fact, apart from the "Play" icon and the "Menu" text on the other two buttons, the back of the 300 HS is devoid of any iconography. This gives it a clean, high-tech look, but may prove a little daunting for consumers looking for a camera that offers lots of guidance.
Another indication that the 300 HS is for those who have at least a little photographic experience is the welcome inclusion of a proper manual mode.
The sliding switch on the top of the camera allows you to choose your mode: Auto is a totally automatic, point and click mode. Slide the switch to the right, and the 300 HS's considerable list of features is unlocked.
Of primary interest to enthusiasts will be the shutter- and aperture-priority modes. The shutter can be set from 15 seconds to 1/250th of a second, and while the aperture doesn't cover quite the same range of settings, being able to choose from f/2.0 to f/8 in three-step increments gives you plenty of control over how your image looks.
The only drawback is the lack of a full-manual mode: you can set aperture, or shutter, but not both simultaneously. The manual features continue with a wide range of white balance presets, as well as the ability to set your own white balance from an image.
The 300 HS is flexible in other respects as well: the self-timer mode is respectably well-featured, with 10-second and two-second options. There's also an intervalometer-style setting which waits a pre-determined amount of time, then takes a number of shots in the hope of getting a snap of an entire group without anyone caught mid-blink.
Performance is excellent. The time between pressing the on switch on the top of the camera and being ready to shoot averaged 1.48 seconds in our tests.
And, with the time between shots in the 300 HS's single-shot mode standing at 1.78 seconds you won't be left waiting around while a scene unfolds in front of you. It has a surprisingly-good continuous mode as well - it captured 10 full-resolution frames in 3.31 seconds, which translates to just over 3fps.
That's around as fast - if not slightly faster - than a basic DSLR. It's all powered by Canon's legendary DIGIC 4 processor.