The Cyber-shot DSC-T900 is Sony's top-of-the-range T-series camera, a dazzling blend of technology, miniaturisation and multimedia. And so it should be at an average street price of £320. For that though, you get 12-megapixel stills, high-definition movies and one of the biggest, highest-resolution LCD displays ever seen on a camera.
Let's start with that 89mm (3.5-inch) LCD. Frankly, you can't miss it. It takes up pretty much the whole of the back of the camera, leaving no space for any controls. Not that the T900 needs any, because its touchscreen interface takes care of practically every adjustment. It works pretty well too, responding to a light press from your thumb with only the occasional hesitancy or vagueness. You'll need the manual now and again in the early days, but much of the time you can figure out where stuff is simply with a little trial and error.
The only other controls on this camera are power and playback buttons on the top and a shutter release with two levers around it. The front lever controls the zoom, while the rear lever switches between the still and movie modes.
At this price, the results had better be good -- and they are. For the sake of compactness, the T900 uses a miniaturised 'folded' lens that doesn't extend from the body. Such lenses are often slightly iffy on the optical side, but this one isn't. It's good and sharp, with not much distortion or colour fringing. It softens up slightly at the far end of its 4x zoom range, but this is common in compacts anyway.
If the stills are good, the movies are even better. They're not at a 'Full HD' resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels, but the T900's 1,280x720-pixel movies are still very crisp and clear. You get stereo sound -- as long as you don't put your finger over the right-hand mic orifice -- and the ability to zoom in and out as you film. The autofocus keeps up well during filming too.
The icing on the cake is the playback quality on the 920,000-pixel LCD. You can play your movies back on your Sony Bravia TV -- once you've bought the optional cable -- but they look pretty damned good just played back on the camera.