Canon's Digital IXUS range of cameras has virtually become a byword for combining style with performance. But with the new IXUS 65, Canon has a fight on its hands.

It's not that the company hasn't improved on previous models: there's a six-megapixel CCD and Canon's DIGiC II processor, which is capable of pumping out highly detailed images at the rate of around two frames per second until the memory card is full.

That won't take long in this instance, as there's just a paltry 16MB SD starter card, so you'll need to budget for another.

That aside, other improvements include a new top ISO800 sensitivity setting for low-light shooting and a 3-inch LCD dominating the rear. Bigger doesn't always mean better, though, and this screen isn't particularly detailed, bright or clear.

Nor is it a hybrid type, so, other than window dressing, its inclusion is somewhat baffling. What's more, under low lighting it doesn't gain-up without introducing heavy noise. New animated graphics work well, though, especially in conjunction with the Apple-style touch-sensitive controller squeezed onto what's left of the camera's back.

Styled more like the IXUS Wireless than previous models, the build quality of the casing has to be seen to be believed. But unlike most rivals, Canon has missed the opportunity to upgrade the 35-105mm lens.

While its central performance is good, it suffers some softness and purple fringing at the edges. Even so, we've no real concerns with picture quality. Noise is well controlled, and colour reproduction is more faithful than previous models. We were even taken with the smooth 30fps VGA movie clip option.

However, both Panasonic's excellent 6MP FX01 and Nikon's functional P3 have superior features, such as optical image stabilisation and a more versatile zoom range, while selling for around the same price. Worse still, Sony's tiny 6MP W50 packs a similar capability to the IXUS 65, but boasts a better lens with a desirable 31-93mm zoom range and a ISO1000 setting - and it costs a mere £179.

Given its lack of killer features and its street price of £270, we can't recommend the IXUS 65 unreservedly. Everything has its price, but even with the discounting, build and picture quality, we feel the new IXUS 65 falls behind on value and versatility.