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Hands-on with the General Electric G2: Compact-come-lately

The GE G2 is a newcomer to the compact camera market. It's an 8-megapixel point-and-shoot with a larger-than-average screen and zoom for a very friendly price

The camera market is stuffed to bursting with affordable compacts. There was a deluge of new models in January's trade show season with CES and PMA so close together. It seems a tough market to break into, so what is Johnny-come-lately General Electric thinking with models such as the G2?

Canon may have dominated sales in 2007, with three models in the top ten, but the UK's biggest-selling camera last year was a £21 point-and-shoot made by little-known Vivitar. So the consumer is clearly open to brands outside of the usual photographic big names -- Canon, Kodak and the like -- or even the well-known jacks of all technological trades, such as Panasonic or Casio.

We got our hands on the GE G2 this week, and first impressions are very good indeed. It's very slim, with a non-protruding lens. A sturdy black, red, silver, pink, purple, yellow or green metal frame is banded with chrome. There's a large 69mm (2.7-inch) LCD at the back. The optical zoom is also above average, clocking in at 4x.

Features-wise, the G2 does just about everything you could ask from a compact. Face recognition, 14 scene modes, in-camera panorama stitching and video are included. Red-eye removal is also here, although it has to be run manually on each image. No optical image stabilisation, sadly.

But is the price right? General Electric may be the second biggest company in the world, but it doesn't have much brand recognition over here, so the price will definitely have to be right. The G2 has a recommended price tag of £99.99, which is excellent for a compact so packed with features. It'll probably be even cheaper in stores, although you may have to hunt for it.

Googling it today we couldn't find it on sale anywhere online, but General Electric assures us the range is filtering on to the Interwebs and into high street stores. Our forthcoming in-depth review will be the last word on whether it's worth tracking down. -Rich Trenholm