The 12.2-megapixel Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX9 is £100 dearer than the, yet shares many of its sibling's core features. A brushed-aluminium finish and slimmer body seems to command a higher premium these days. Expect to pay upwards of £300 for this flat-fronted snapshot.
Like the WX5, the TX9 offers the new '3D sweep panorama' mode, despite featuring just the one lens at the front. The results are viewable only on a 3D TV. As this is wholly software-based technology, space for twin lenses and 3D sensors -- like those of the -- aren't required, so the camera is a lighter, more svelte option.
Maintaining the camera's compact proportions of just 17.5mm at its narrowest, the TX9's 4x optical zoom mechanism is folded within the body, so at no point does it protrude from its casing. The Carl Zeiss lens, equivalent to 25mm at its widest setting, is hidden and protected when the camera is dormant beneath a slide-and-shoot faceplate. Slide it down to power up the camera, and up to shut it down. It's as simple as that.
The camera is quick to respond, readying itself for the first shot in just over a second. Sliding open the lens cover reveals a lozenge-shaped integral flash, autofocus-assist/self-timer porthole and, as on the WX5, twin stereo microphones.
A 3.5-inch touch-panel LCD at the rear is utilised for both shot composition and review. Like the earlier TX7, it features a virtual one-touch video-record button for convenient access -- 1080i video at that. The screen itself is bright and clear when used as a viewfinder, and so it should be with a dSLR-like resolution of 921k dots.
The entire back of the camera is swallowed up by the quick and responsive screen. There are only four physical buttons adorning the top plate -- shutter release, power, playback and capture modes -- along with a small ridged rocker switch for operating the zoom. Give this a nudge and the lens travels through the entirety of its 25-100mm range in just over two seconds, smoothly, steadily and silently.
With no handgrip at the front, once again we struggled to get a firm hold on the brushed-metal TX9. Expect to be constantly wiping the screen clean of fingerprints, too, even if Sony has provided a plastic stylus that clips onto the wrist strap.