While many compact cameras seem content to deliver 5Mp, the new Sony DSC-N1 opts for an 8.1Mp sensor, which is enough to put some D-SLRs in the shade. Indeed, it can churn out images with a whopping 3,264 x 2,448 pixels. It's not just the image sensor that's big on numbers, either. Around the back there's an outsized 3.0-inch LCD, which offers yet more trickery.
In fact, it's the Sony's LCD that's the camera's main talking point. While most compacts rely on buttons and dials for making imaging adjustments, the DSC-N1 employs touch-screen technology for the job. Unfortunately, we found the touch-screen menu system cumbersome and slow to use, compared with a few well-placed dials and buttons.
There's a knock-on with battery life as well: even though Sony claims 300 shots from each charge of its 'Stamina' Li-ion battery pack, that figure can shrink alarmingly with heavy usage of the massive 3.0-inch screen.
Typically for Sony cameras, you're stuck with Memory Stick Duo or Pro cards, which can be expensive to buy compared with SD or MMC cards. This is even more of an issue if you plan on shooting most of your photos at the camera's maximum memory card-munching resolution and quality settings.
In our tests, image quality was good in terms of colour rendition, which proved accurate under almost any type of lighting. Sharpness was also good, but not excellent, with a slight lack of crispness in some images.
Overall, with its touch-screen shenanigans, the DSC-N1 feels less like a camera and more like an 8Mp Palm Pilot. This will no doubt suit heavy-duty PDA users who are new to photography, but will prove less intuitive for those already comfortable with cameras. Matthew Richards