Canon PowerShot A2000 IS
The bad: Limited controls; slow performance.
The bottom line: The Canon PowerShot A2000 IS is lean on features beyond its stabilized 6x zoom lens, but it takes great photos and is easy to use.
The A2000 IS isn't much to look at, but it is functional. Its gray-and-silver wedge-shaped body is comfortably thick for a steady grip, though still reasonably slim. Sticking it in a bigger pants pocket or jacket won't be a problem, though its weight won't let you forget it's there. And considering the A2000 IS has a 6x zoom lens and is powered by two AA batteries, the weight is forgivable.
At first glance, it seems as if there's a lot going on with the controls for the A2000 IS. On top are a power button, a shutter release with zoom ring, and a Mode dial with no fewer than 10 shooting options. Why so many for such a basic camera? Well, along with its P (for Program), Auto, Easy (auto without options), and Movie modes, Canon puts five popular scene selections (including Portrait, Landscape, Indoor) and a SCN choice for accessing lesser used scene settings like Sunset, Snow, and Aquarium. So while the Mode dial looks quite busy, it is actually simple.
Likewise, the back of the camera is loaded with a directional pad and six buttons labeled in white (for shooting functions) and blue (for playback functions), but even novice users should have things down pat fairly quickly.
Regardless of the controls, there's little reason to spend much time hanging out in the menu system. But for those times when it's necessary--say to change the autofocus priority, adjust the LCD brightness, or switch when the image stabilization is engaged--navigation is straightforward.
If you're expecting to find the manual controls of earlier Canon A-series models, you'll be disappointed with the A2000 IS. The A590 IS is the only model in the current lineup that has aperture-priority, shutter-priority, and manual options. However, the A2000 IS' Program mode does give you control over ISO, white balance, autofocus type, light metering, and color effects. Plain and simple, the A2000 IS is designed for point-and-shoot use and it does that extremely well. If only it were a bit faster at doing it.