With the help of your Web site I've decided my new camera will be a Canon Digital IXUS 800. However, I've also seen it referred to as a Powershot SD 700. Some cameras have PowerShot on the front (tending to be a bit cheaper) and some have IXUS. Is there a difference?
Canon uses different model names in different regions, based on the likes and dislikes of the relevant markets. For example, the Canon EOS 400D is the Canon Digital Rebel XTi in the US and the Canon EOS Kiss Digital X in Japan.
The marketing department also has a difficult relationship with numbers. When it launched the first EOS (film) SLR, back in 1987, it was called the EOS 650 -- because 650 is, obviously, a completely logical starting point for a new range of cameras. Although you can find meaningful patterns in some product categories, it's best not to read too much into any of the names and numbers.
In the UK, Canon uses both PowerShot and Digital IXUS for digital compact cameras, whereas in the US it has PowerShot and PowerShot SD ranges. The numbering system also changes, so our Digital IXUS 800 IS is the equivalent of the American PowerShot SD 700 IS.
The two cameras are basically the same, although there may be some small differences in terms of charging voltage, accessories and so on. Your main concern should be the warranty, because the US camera will come with a US warranty. We asked a Canon representative to clarify the situation:
"Most Canon products purchased within Europe, including digital compact and digital SLR cameras, are sold with a European warranty. This means that a product purchased anywhere in Europe, which has a European warranty, could be repaired in the UK under the terms of that warranty. However, many Canon products sold in America or Asia, for example, are intended specifically for those markets. Because there can be variances in specification, parts, voltage, operating protocols etc, an American or Asian warranty would not be valid in the UK.
"We strongly advise consumers who want to buy their product on the Internet to ensure the terms of their purchase (eg price, country of origin, warranty) are very clear, and that they are happy with those terms, before committing."
So, assuming you aren't planning on moving to the US, the Digital IXUS 800 IS will be easier to get hold of and offer you greater peace of mind.
You might also like to consider the Digital IXUS 850 IS, a follow-up model that has a wider lens and a higher resolution of 7.1 megapixels. To further complicate your life, Canon has recently announced the Digital IXUS 950 IS, an 8-megapixel model with a similar lens to the Digital IXUS 800 IS.