Sony Cyber-shot DSCT33

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Sony Cyber-shot DSCT33

Pros

  • Ultra–slim, large LCD, quick to power up

Cons

  • Awkward positioning of the power button and microphone, colour balance a little off

Bottom Line

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T33 can take pleasing photos, but its most attractive aspects are its 2.5' LCD and ultrathin body.

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Sony's 5.1 megapixel Cyber-shot DSCT33 is cleverly designed and compact. Its roughly the size of a deck of cards and looks like a fancy silver-plated cigarette box; the front and back are smooth, with no bulky bits sticking out. Its slimness makes it a joy to carry around, as it slides in and out of your shirt pocket nicely. It will stand on its own on a solid surface, for timed shots, say, but its thinness makes standing it on uneven surfaces a little tricky.

The camera's 2.5" LCD is great. We were glued to the screen during testing, and we ended up thinking far less of competing point-and-shoot models with comparatively tiny 1.5" or 1.8" displays. Though the LCD takes up much of the camera's back, Sony managed to place the various controls--including buttons for deletion, the general menu, the self-timer, and zoom--into a sensible layout. For example, as you're viewing a series of images on the LCD, the Delete button is slightly to the left of the arrow button that you use to cycle through the images, so it's a tiny move for your thumb--you don't need to change your hand position to zap undesirable shots on the fly.

If you enjoy taking snaps of candid moments, your friends and family better watch out. Press the power button, and the DSCT33 fires up lightning-fast. One minor gripe, though: to press the shutter button, you must reach over the power button, which is a little awkward. Yet it's unlikely that you would accidentally turn your camera off while taking a photo, since you have to press the power button firmly to shut it down.

Another small complaint: the microphone is housed right where your thumb would naturally sit when holding the camera. If you habitually record voice-overs with your mini-movies or still images, you'll need to move your thumb out of the way while doing so. We liked the large on-screen commands (Setup, Image Size, and so on). We also appreciated Sony's decision not to bury the more advanced settings in a labyrinthine menu system. It takes just a few clicks to access, for example, the white-balance settings, the exposure adjustments, and special effects like black-and-white or sepia tones.

In our image-quality tests, the DSCT33's photos looked a little mediocre. They appeared crisp, and strong on detail and in hands-on tests, digital zoom introduced little distortion to images. However, when we took some snaps indoors, the photos looked less vibrant than we expected. For example, the white balance seemed a little off. In one of our images, a white background had a greenish tinge.

The DSCT33 comes with a cradle, which you must use to download images from the camera and to recharge its lithium ion battery; if you're planning to process your photos on the road, you have to remember to bring the extra gear. A Memory Stick Duo card is also part of the DSCT33's package.

Sony's Picture Package PC software accompanies the DSCT33. It provides slide-show options, CD-R burning, and video CD burning along with the image-download tool, but that's about it.

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