powershot a490

With image quality good and nothing major missing from the stills mode, the hunt for compromises moves on - anyone who's used Canon's previous low-end PowerShot's will know what to expect.

Like the outgoing A460 the body is made entirely of plastic, and the chunky curves and small, cheap-feeling buttons - inevitably - hardly feel high-end.

However, the A490 still feels like it will survive the odd knock here and there, even if it's not quite as convincing as Canon's more luxurious Ixus range.

a490

The 2.5in TFT screen is a good one. With 115,000 pixels it only offers around half the resolution of cameras such as the Canon IXUS 105, but in use you're unlikely to notice the difference.

Friends might not exclaim as to the quality, but it's visible in all but direct sunlight and, crucially, doesn't present an impediment to framing a shot.

The bulky battery door on the bottom hides a pair of AA batteries.

Just three of Canon's current range of PowerShots take AA batteries instead of the more common (and expensive) lithium-ion batteries, and as ever, it's a double-edged sword.

a490

On the one hand, the alkaline batteries supplied with the A490 will only last for around 150 shots, which is hardly anything compared to most compact cameras.

We also found ourselves staring at an unresponsive camera when we used the flash as the camera waits for the flash to recharge before allowing you to take another shot.

On the plus side, AA batteries are available virtually everywhere on Earth, so if your camera runs out while you're away from a mains socket you should be able to get it going again.

a490

And, if you use rechargeable Ni-MH batteries Canon claims you'll get a more satisfactory 400 exposures before needing to reach for a charger.

A final note is reserved for the A490's performance: start-up time might be reasonable at around 1.5 seconds, but over a period of 10 seconds the A490 captured just seven shots. It's shot-to-shot time isn't too impressive either, at around 2.8 seconds.