Looking for one compact 'travel zoom' camera that does it all? If you haven't had your head turned by the workmanlike reliability of Panasonic's TZ series, such as the Panasonic Lumix TZ20, nor sports car exterior and gimmicky triple-action sensor of the Fuji FinePix F600 EXR, then the chunkier Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX9V,at 34mm 'thick', is another to add to that checklist.
Part of Sony's high performance range of compact cameras, it shares or matches many of the core features of both rivals, while slipping readily into a pocket or bag.
For starters, there's a 16.2MP top stills resolution, this time from a 1/2.3-inch Exmor R CMOS sensor.
Sony extends its desirability as a travel companion by offering both a built-in GPS unit and a 16x optical zoom, with a usefully broad focal range equivalent to 24-384mm in 35mm terms. This enables wide-angle close ups and the ability to pull the faraway a fair amount closer at the telephoto end.
In addition, as on the Panasonic TZ20, this Cyber-Shot boasts software-based 3D capture.
Most effective is Sweep Panorama mode, which automatically generates a single elongated image as an MPO image file, viewable in its fullest tri-dimensional form only via a suitably equipped TV. The alternative is to shoot in Sweep Multi Angle mode, which offers a lenticular-like display when the user tilts the back LCD screen left or right, so aping a 3D effect.
While an f/3.3 maximum aperture is so-so, ticking the right boxes for the latest must-haves are 1920 x 1080 pixels video capture in AVCHD or MPEG4 format, accompanied by stereo sound, courtesy of prominent left and right microphones located dead centre of the top plate.
If you're not bothered about a camera with a degree of expandability, nor the interchangeable lenses found on CSCs, the Sony Cyber-shot HX9V on paper at least would seem to fit the bill as a jack of all trades. But how does it do in practice?