Being the seasoned, hard-bitten hacks that we Cravers are, we know that the way into every story is to ask who? what? and where? Today, the answers are Sony, the W series and . Wow! It's the Sony Cyber-shot W170, W150, W130, W120 and W110 compact cameras!
The top-of-the-range 10.1-megapixel Cyber-shot W170 -- pictured -- has a Carl Zeiss wide angle lens with 5x optical zoom, and 35mm equivalent focal length of 28mm–140 mm. The 8.1-megapixel W150 has a 5x zoom Carl Zeiss 30mm–150 mm lens. Both sport 69mm (2.7-inch) LCD screens.
The W130 is another 8.1-megapixel snapper, but with a 4x zoom. The W120 is the same as the W130, but with a lower 7.2-megapixel resolution.
Finally, the entry-level 7.2-megapixel W110 is the same as the W120 but without the optical image stabilisation.
The W series jumps on the HD bandwagon, like other cameras manufactured by companies with HD tellies to plug. You can view your slideshows, with music, in glorious high definition on a Bravia -- or any HD Ready display. Of course, the cable you need is sold separately.
Each model boasts the frankly ridiculous smile shutter feature infesting compacts recently. A smile level function lets you adjust how happy you want your subjects to be before you take their picture, like some kind of happiness fascist.
We are, at least, convinced of the value of the now-ubiquitous face detection -- when it works, anyway. The W series can adjust exposure, focus, skin tone and red-eye reduction for up to eight faces, as well as tracking those faces if the pesky subjects start milling about the place. They also have the ability to distinguish between children and adults, which we're sure must be useful for someone.
More interesting is the addition of in-camera editing functions including an unsharp mask to sharpen images. Other advanced features include, unusually, an optical viewfinder and a maximum sensitivity of ISO 3,200. But if you want to keep things simple, an easy shooting mode does all the hard work, so you don't have to.
The W130 and W120 will be available this month, while the others will show up in April. All models will sport a range of colours. No word yet on UK price tags, but the Yanks will shell out between $200 (£100) for the W120 and $300 (£150) for the W170. -Rich Trenholm